Nihonium, moscovium, tennessine, and oganesson are the permanent names for elements 113, 115, 117, and 118, the International Union of Pure & Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) announced today.
IUPAC officially recognized the elements at the end of 2015.
European-American collaborations involving Russia’s Joint Institute for Nuclear Research and the U.S. Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge national laboratories named moscovium (Mc), tennessine (Ts), and oganesson (Og). Moscovium and tennessine recognize the Moscow and Tennessee areas, respectively. Oganesson honors Russian nuclear physicist Yuri T. Oganessian, who leads the Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research
The endings of the four names conform to the naming traditions of their respective periodic table groups.
After revealing the proposed names in June, IUPAC accepted public comments on them for five months. An upcoming paper in Pure & Applied Chemistry about the names and symbols notes that chemists raised concerns about possible confusion regarding the symbol for tennessine, Ts, which is also used as an abbreviation for the tosyl group (p-toluenesulfonic acid). “Other symbols such as Ac (element 89) or Pr (element 59) are also used by chemists as abbreviations for the acetyl and the propyl groups, respectively,” the paper says. “Any chemist would be able to discriminate between the different meanings from their contexts, and therefore there was no need to sacrifice the name proposed by the discoverers.”
“Overall, it was a real pleasure to realize that so many people are interested in the naming of the new elements,” says Jan Reedijk, a chemistry professor at Leiden University and president of IUPAC’s inorganic chemistry division, in a press release. He adds that even high-school students wrote IUPAC essays about possible element names, noting how proud they were to participate in the process.