LIVERMORE, Calif., May 2 (UPI) -- Element 117 -- a superheavy element discovered in 2010 by scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California -- is still just a number, not officially named.
But it recently moved one step closer to earning a moniker, as a second group of German scientists produced Element 117 during a series of experiments, thus confirming its existence.
Like the particle physicists at Livermore, a team of scientists working with a particle accelerator laboratory located in Darmstadt, Germany, were able to create Element 117 by bombarding a berkelium target with calcium ions until their fusion formed the superheavy element.
Superheavy elements never last very long, and Element 117 is no different. Quickly after it's created, it decays into elements 115 and 113.
The new research, confirming 117, will be published in the journal Physical Review Letters.
In order to earn an epithet, the science behind Element 117's new confirmation must be reviewed by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry. If IUPAC agrees that all the science checks out, they will then decide which research institution gets to pick a name. If there are problems with the science, IUPAC can request further experimentation.