A new element discovered at the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung (Centre for Heavy Ion Research) in Darmstadt has been officially recognised by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC).
IUPAC confirmed the recognition of element 112 in an official letter to Prof Sigurd Hofmann, the head of the team that discovered it, asking the team to propose a name for it.
The team’s suggestion will be submitted within the next few weeks.
In about six months, after the proposal has been thoroughly assessed by IUPAC, the element will receive its official name. The new element is approximately 277 times heavier than hydrogen, making it the heaviest element in the periodic table.
To produce element 112 atoms, scientists accelerated charged zinc ions with the help of the 120m-long particle accelerator at GSI and fired them onto a lead target.
The zinc and lead nuclei merged to form the nucleus of the new element. Its so-called atomic number 112, hence the provisional name ‘element 112’, is the sum of the atomic numbers of the two initial elements: zinc has the atomic number 30 and lead the atomic number 82.
Since 1981, GSI researchers have discovered six chemical elements, which carry the atomic numbers 107 to 112. GSI has already named those – element 107 is called bohrium, element 108 hassium, element 109 meitnerium, element 110 darmstadtium, and element 111 is named roentgenium.
Prof Sigurd Hofmann, head of the international team of scientists who discovered element 112