Bragging rights for making element 113 first

Credit: Steve Horrell

We’ve all heard of the Periodic Table. In fact, depending on what you’re serving time here for, you may know rather more about the Periodic Table than you’d think is necessary. What you probably didn’t know is that researchers in Japan, Russia and the US have be racing for almost the past decade to create the first atom of the element 113 – currently know as Ununtrium. You’re even less likely to know is that Japanese scientists are almost certain that they’ve made and identified the element. The scientists in the Nishina Centre have deduced that it did exist (for something in the region of a few seconds) because of the way the atom they observed decayed radioactively. They’ve submitted their paper to the IUPAC – who will now decide if they get naming (and bragging) rights of this new element. The world waits with (only slightly) baited breath.

Straight up from the Study:

The researchers in the RIKEN Nishina Center have been firing a beam of Zinc (Zn-70) atoms, extracted from a linear accelerator at a metallic layer of Bismuth (Bi-209) which was layed 450μgcm^-2 on carbon foils. During the decay that contained the 113 atom, the Bismuth was layed in 780μgcm^-2, in order to enlarge the coverage of the incident beam’s energy. The Bismuth was rotated at around 3000-4000rpm, during the experiment, and when heavier atoms were given off, they were guided to a detector box by a Helium filled recoil ion separator. The time of flight was measured, and the journey to the detector from the plate was used for a rough estimation of the mass number. If there were atoms without signal from either timing detectors in the experiment, these were regarded as decay events. The suggested chain of events in the decay ran:

78 113 → 274 Rg  → 270Mt  → 266 Bh  → 262 Db  → 258Lr  → 254 Md

All six of the α decay events were measured on the strip detectors that surrounded the detection box the atoms were funnelled to. The group admit that the predicted energies of the emitted particles are larger than the experimental values recorded, but the differences are accounted for by the energy losses to the foil and other accepted defects. The half lives of the atoms in the suggested chain of decay are a good match to the accepted ones of the same elements, and so the element 113 has been claimed to have been identified by the firm connection to the well known daughter nuclides Bohrium (Bh-266), Dubnium (Db-262) and Lawrencium (Lr-258).

To see the full study, click here.