Issue Date: October 1, 2012
Element 113 Spotted Again
Scientists at RIKEN Nishina Center for Accelerator-Based Science, in Japan, report that they have definitive evidence of element 113 (J. Phys. Soc. Jpn., DOI: 10.1143/jpsj.81.103201). The report is the fourth time researchers have claimed to have made the superheavy element. In 2004 and 2005, a team from RIKEN announced they made 113; also in 2004, a collaborative team from the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, in Dubna, Russia, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the U.S. reported seeing the element. But in 2011, an International Union of Pure & Applied Chemistry-International Union of Pure & Applied Physics joint committee found that the claims for element 113, as well as claims for 115 and 118, were inconclusive. Element 117 is still awaiting independent confirmation and IUPAC approval. This time, the RIKEN team smashed zinc ions into a layer of bismuth, which they say produced solid evidence for 278113 in a telltale chain of six α-particle decays that ends with 254Md (element 101). The new report awaits examination by IUPAC to determine whether the results are unambiguous. “For over nine years, we have been searching for data conclusively identifying element 113, and now that at last we have it, it feels like a great weight has been lifted from our shoulders,” says Kosuke Morita, head of RIKEN’s Superheavy Element Laboratory.
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