Scientists confirm new synthetic element

Swedish scientists discover 115th element, ununpentium, which could join periodic table

Scientists may have discovered the 115th element, ununpentium.

Researchers at Lund University in Sweden said Tuesday that they have confirmed the existence of a new synthetic chemical element provisionally named "ununpentium."

It appears set to join the periodic table, between the two most recently recognized elements by IUPAC -- elements 114 and 116, known as flerovium and livermorium, respectively.

The Swedish scientists said their finding support claims made in 2004 by teams in Russia and the United States that were uncorroborated until now.

In that experiment, physicists bombarded americium with calcium and the nuclei of the two were fused together for almost 100 milliseconds – creating ununpentium for the first time.

The findings by the Swedish team represent an independent confirmation of the previous experiments, and if all of the data is correct, the new element should be added to the periodic table.

The new element's name, ununpentium, is just provisional, and will likely be changed by experts from the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics and Chemistry if it's formally approved as an element. 

Ununpentium, like other super-heavy elements, does not occur naturally on the earth and is made synthetically by scientists.

Scientists have worked for decades, smashing atoms together in attempts to make two elements fuse and form – at least briefly – a new, heavier element.

Experiments on synthetic elements helps scientists learn more about fission and how atoms work in general.

Most of the universe is made from simple elements like hydrogen, carbon and oxygen. Complex elements tend to be unstable and scientists wonder if there is a limit to how big atoms can get.

The first synthetic element was created in 1940, and so far at least 20 different elements have been made.

Al Jazeera and wire services

Related News

Find Al Jazeera America on your TV

Get email updates from Al Jazeera America

Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Get email updates from Al Jazeera America

Sign up for our weekly newsletter