Japanese research team earns right to name Element 113

For now, the superheavy element goes by its unofficial name of ununtrium.
By Brooks Hays  |  Dec. 31, 2015 at 10:43 AM
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WAKO, Japan, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Whoever finds it, names it. It's sort of like the scientific equivalent of "finders keepers." But when it comes to atomic elements, it's not always clear who found it -- or who found it first.

On Thursday, the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics, or IUPAP, determined the research team from RIKEN in Japan discovered Element 113. Thus, physicist Kosuke Morita and his colleagues will be granted the naming rights to the new member of the periodic table.

"The RIKEN collaboration team in Japan have fulfilled the criteria for element Z=113 and will be invited to propose a permanent name and symbol," IUPAP confirmed in a press release.

The validation comes after years of frustrating lab work. Proving the existence of Element 113 is no easy task. Almost as soon as it's there, it's gone.

Element 113 is a synthetic superheavy element; it was discovered using RIKEN's Linear Accelerator Facility and the GARIS ion separator.

"The elements tend to decay extremely quickly -- the isotopes of 113 produced at RIKEN lasted for less than a thousandth of a second," researchers at RIKEN wrote.

It's not clear if the RIKEN team already has a name selected. For now, the superheavy element goes by its unofficial name of ununtrium. It will reside between copernicium and flerovium on the periodic table.

A team of researchers in the United States and one in Russia were also vying for the naming rights to Element 113. The Japanese research team first reported their discovery in 2012 in the Journal of the Physical Society of Japan.

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