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A news reports from IUPAC indicates the confirmation of the discoveries of elements 114 and 116. Proposals for the names of the two elements will follow in due course:
News: Discovery of the Elements with Atomic Number 114 and 116
Priority for the discovery of the elements with atomic number 114 and 116 has been assigned, in accordance with the agreed criteria, to collaborative work between scientists from the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia and from Lawrence Livermore, California, USA (the Dubna-Livermore collaborations). The discovery evidences were recently reviewed and recognized by a IUPAC/IUPAP joint working party. IUPAC confirmed the recognition of the elements in a letter to the leaders of the collaboration.
The IUPAC/IUPAP Joint Working Party (JWP) on the priority of claims to the discovery of new elements has reviewed the relevant literature pertaining to several claims. In accordance with the criteria for the discovery of elements previously established by the 1992 IUPAC/IUPAP Transfermium Working Group, and reiterated by the 1999 and 2003 IUPAC/IUPAP JWPs, it was concluded that “the establishment of the identity of the isotope 283Cn by a large number of decaying chains, originating from a variety of production pathways essentially triangulating its A,Z character enables that nuclide’s use in unequivocally recognizing higher-Z isotopes that are observed to decay through it.” From 2004 Dubna-Livermore collaborations the JWP notes: (i) the internal redundancy and extended decay chain sequence for identification of Z = 287114 from 48Ca + 242Pu fusion (Oganessian et al. Eur. Phys. J. A 19, 3 (2004) and Phys. Rev. C 70, 064609 (2004)); and (ii) that the report of the production of 291116 from the fusion of 48Ca with 245Cm is supported by extended decay chains that include, again, 283Cn and descendants (Oganessian et al. Phys. Rev. C 69, 054607 (2004)). It recommends that the Dubna-Livermore collaborations be credited with discovery of these two new elements.
A full synopsis of the relevant experiments and related efforts is presented in a technical report published online in Pure and Applied Chemistry on 1 June 2011. With the priority for the discovery established, the scientists from the Dubna-Livermore collaborations are invited to propose a name for the two super-heavy elements, elements 114 and 116. The suggested names will then go through a review process before adoption by the IUPAC Council.
Review of the claims associated with elements 113, 115, and 118 are at this time not conclusive and evidences have not met the criteria for discovery.
A paper has just been accepted (5 April 2010) for publication in Physical Review Letters.1
International team discovers element 117
A new chemical element has been added to the Periodic Table: A paper on the discovery of element 117 has been accepted for publication in Physical Review Letters.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory is part of a team that includes the Joint Institute of Nuclear Research (Dubna, Russia), the Research Institute for Advanced Reactors (Dimitrovgrad), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Vanderbilt University and the University of Nevada Las Vegas. ORNL's role included production of the berkelium-249 isotope necessary for the target, which was subjected to an extended, months-long run at the heavy ion accelerator facility at Dubna, Russia.
"Without the berkelium target, there could have been no experiment," says ORNL Director of Strategic Capabilities Jim Roberto, who is a principal author on the PRL paper and who helped initiate the experiment. The berkelium was produced at the High Flux Isotope Reactor and processed at the adjoining Radiochemical Engineering & Development Laboratory as part of the most recent campaign to produce californium-252, a radioisotope widely used in industry and medicine.
"Russia had proposed this experiment in 2004, but since we had no californium production at the time, we couldn't supply the berkelium. With the initiation of californium production in 2008, we were able to implement a collaboration," Roberto says.
Professor Joe Hamilton of Vanderbilt University (who helped establish the Joint Institute for Heavy Ion Research at ORNL) introduced Roberto to Yuri Oganessian of Russia's JINR. Five months of the Dubna JINR U400 accelerator's calcium-48 beam - one of the world's most powerful - was dedicated to the project.
The massive effort identified a total of six atoms of element 117 and the critical reams of data that substantiate their existence.
The two-year experimental campaign began with a 250-day irradiation in HFIR, producing 22 milligrams of berkelium-249, which has a 320-day half-life. The irradiation was followed by 90 days of processing at REDC to separate and purify the berkelium. The Bk-249 target was prepared at Dimitrovgrad and then bombarded for 150 days at the Dubna facility. Lawrence Livermore, which now has been involved in the discovery of six elements with Dubna (113, 114, 115, 116, 117, and 118), contributed data analysis, and the entire team was involved in the assessment of the results.
This is the second element that ORNL has had a role in discovering, joining element 61, promethium, which was discovered at the Graphite Reactor during the Manhattan project and reported in 1946. ORNL, by way of its production of radioisotopes for research, has contributed to the discovery of a total of seven new elements.
Members of the ORNL team include the Physics Division's Krzysztof Rykaczewsi, Porter Bailey of the Nonreactor Nuclear Facilities Division, and Dennis Benker, Julie Ezold, Curtis Porter and Frank Riley of the Nuclear S&T Division. Roberto says the success of the element-117 campaign underscores the value of international collaborations in science.
"This use of ORNL isotopes and Russian accelerators is a tremendous example of the value of working together," he says. "The 117 experiment paired one of the world's leading research reactors--capable of producing the berkelium target material--with the exceptional heavy ion accelerator and detection capabilities at Dubna."
Islands of Stability
Roberto also says the experiment, in addition to discovering a new chemical element, has pushed the Periodic Table further into the neutron-rich regime for heaviest elements. "New isotopes observed in these experiments continue a trend toward higher lifetimes for increased neutron numbers, providing evidence for the proposed "island of stability" for super-heavy nuclei," he says. "Because the half-lives are getting longer, there is potential to study the chemistry of these nuclei," Roberto says. "These experiments and discoveries essentially open new frontiers of chemistry."
The news about the claim was announced in a press release from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
- 1. Synthesis of a New Element with Atomic Number Z=117,
, Phys. Rev. Lett., Apr/2010, Volume 104, Number 14, p.142502, (2010)
The discovery of a new chemical element with atomic number Z=117 is reported. The isotopes 293117 and 294117 were produced in fusion reactions between 48Ca and 249Bk. Decay chains involving 11 new nuclei were identified by means of the Dubna gas-filled recoil separator. The measured decay properties show a strong rise of stability for heavier isotopes with Z≥111, validating the concept of the long sought island of enhanced stability for superheavy nuclei.Synthesis of a New Element with Atomic Number Z=117, , Phys. Rev. Lett., Apr/2010, Volume 104, Number 14, p.142502, (2010)
Dr. Thomas Neff, a research affiliate at the MIT (Massachussetts Institute of Technology) Center for International Studies states that limited supplies of uranium fuel for nuclear power plants may thwart the renewed and growing interest in nuclear energy in the United States and other nations.
Over the past 20 years, safety concerns and politics dampened all aspects of development of nuclear energy. No new reactors were ordered and there was investment neither in new uranium mines nor in building facilities to produce fuel for existing reactors. Instead, the nuclear industry lived off commercial and government inventories which are now nearly gone. It is stated that worldwide uranium production meets only about 65% of current reactor requirements.
A few years ago uranium inventories were being sold at US$ 10 per pound; the current price is US$ 85 per pound.
Much of the uranium used by the United States comes from mines in Australia, Canada, Namibia, and, Kazakhstan. Small amounts are mined in the western United States, but the United States is largely reliant on overseas supplies. The United States also relies for half its fuel on Russia under a “swords to ploughshares” 1991 deal. This deal is converting about 20,000 Russian nuclear weapons to fuel for U.S. nuclear power plants, but it ends in 2013, leaving a substantial supply gap for the United States.
Further, China, India, and even Russia have plans for massive deployments of nuclear power and are trying to lock up supplies from countries on which the United States has traditionally relied. As a result, the United States could be the “last one to buy, and it could pay the highest prices, if it can get uranium at all,” Neff said. “The take-home message is that if we're going to increase use of nuclear power, we need massive new investments in capacity to mine uranium and facilities to process it.”
Mined uranium comes in several forms, or isotopes. For starting a nuclear chain reaction in a reactor, the only important isotope is uranium-235, which accounts for only 7 out of 1000 atoms in the mined product. To fuel a nuclear reactor, the concentration of uranium-235 must be 40 to 50 out of 1000 atoms. This is done by separating isotopes in an enrichment plant to achieve the higher concentration, but there is not enough processing capacity worldwide to enrich all the uranium required.
Workers in the USA verify the production of element 114 in the reaction of 244-MeV 48Ca with 242Pu. Two chains of time- and position-correlated decays were assigned to 286114 and 287114. The observed decay modes, half-lives, and decay energies agree with the original claims of researchers at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research at Dubna in Russia. The Russian results were first reported in 1999. Such independent verification is vital for verification purposes. The measured cross sections at a center-of-target energy of 244 MeV for the 242Pu(48Ca,3–4n)287,286114 reactions were 1.4(+3.2, -1.2) pb each, which are lower than the reported values.1
- 1. Independent Verification of Element 114 Production in the Ca-48 + Pu-242 Reaction,
, Physical Review Letters, Volume 103, Number 13, p.132502, (2009)
The team of Berkeley Lab scientists that announced two years ago (1999) the observation of what appeared to be Element 118 (heaviest undiscovered transuranic element at the time) has retracted its original paper after several confirmation experiments failed to reproduce the results. This means that the pages for element 118 and parts of the data for element 116 are wrong.