Scientists at Japan’s RIKEN Nishina Center for Accelerator-Based Science said this week that they had synthesized element 113, an extremely heavy element that does not occur naturally on earth, Live Science reported. If their research is confirmed, it will be the first time scientists have created the element.
The research team said they had been trying to make element 113 for more than nine years before they collided zinc, which has 30 protons, with bismuth, which has 83 protons, last month, the Los Angeles Times reported. An atom with 113 protons in its nucleus appeared, then quickly decayed into smaller elements, the researchers said.
The decay data indicate that the team indeed created element 113 – often called Ununtrium, meaning one-one-three – the scientists said, according to the LA Times.
"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," Kosuke Morita, head of the research group, said in a statement, according to Live Science.
Since 1940, 20 different elements have been synthesized, Live Science reported.
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The discovery would be the first time Japan has found a new element, and could make Japan the first Asian country to name a member of the periodic table, according to Live Science.
The researchers aren’t resting on their laurels, however. “For our next challenge, we look to the uncharted territory of element 119 and beyond,” Morita said, according to the LA Times.