The discovery of the periodic table’s 117th element has been confirmed after four years of research. Element 117, known as ununseptium which was originally discovered back in 2010 by a group of American and Russian physicists with the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR).
It has taken years for the discovery to be replicated by another independent team, which the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) require. Now the element can be named and added into the periodic table with the approval of the IUPAC.
The newest instance of element 117 was created by a team at the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research in Germany, whose findings were published in Physical Review Letters. “Making element 117 is at the absolute boundary of what is possible right now,” Professor David Hinde of the Australian National University advised: As with other transuranium elements, ununseptium is highly unstable, and has a brief half-life of about 80 milliseconds.
However, that’s still longer than expected, suggesting that there may be an “island of stability” beyond element 118 where elements have half-lives of hours, days, or even years. With the confirmation of element 117 come, according the paper’s authors, “an important step towards the observation of even more long-lived nuclei of super heavy elements located on an ‘island of stability.’”