If you’ve looked at the last row of the periodic table of elements, you’ve probably wondered about those strange names like Ununoctium. These are placeholders for elements that haven’t been given official names. Well, soon these will be going away. The placeholders, that is. Researchers have synthesized them in labs, and the IUPAC has recognized them. Soon they will have official names, and the Unun names will go away.
Now it’s on to the 8th row on the table!
In 2010 scientists in Russia synthesized some atoms of element 117 (with temporary name ununseptium). Now, other scientists using a different method have created more of them, helping to confirm the original finding. Element 117 decays very quickly via alpha decay. One of the atoms created by the decay, Lr-266 (atomic number 103), has a half life of 11 hours. This is very long for superheavy elements, and could be on the edge of the hypothetical “island of stability” for superheavy elements. If the island exists, the next atomic numbers should be 108, 110, or 114, with 184 neutrons. Some of these hypothetical atoms may actually have a nucleus with a hole in the middle, kind of like a bubble.