APS News

Names Proposed for New Elements

Approval to follow five-month public comment period

June 9, 2016 | David Voss

The four most-recent additions to the periodic table now have user-friendly names. On June 8, 2016, the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) announced its choices for names of elements 113, 115, 117, and 118, replacing temporary designations like “ununtrium.”

In December 2015, after the initial discoveries of the elements were confirmed, IUPAP officially added them to the periodic table with temporary names (which are Latin versions of their atomic numbers). As per IUPAP naming guidelines, the groups making the discoveries are invited to propose names, after which the public can comment on the proposals for up to five months (the comment period ends November 8, 2016).

Nihonium (Nh), based on a Japanese name for Japan (the Land of the Rising Sun), was proposed for element 113 by its discoverers at the RIKEN Nishina Center for Accelerator-Based Science. It is the first element discovered in an Asian country.

Muscovium (Mc) and Tennessine (Ts) were proposed for elements 115 and 117 by the three groups that discovered them: the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, Dubna (Russia), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (USA), Vanderbilt University (USA) and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (USA).

Oganesson (Og) is the proposed name for element 118, and was suggested by the co-discoverers at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, Dubna, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in honor of physicist Yuri Oganessian, whose group in Dubna first observed the decay of atoms of the element.

In a statement released by IUPAP, naming group chair Jan Reedijk said “It is a pleasure to see that specific places and names … related to the new elements [are] recognized in these four names. Although these choices may perhaps be viewed by some as slightly self-indulgent, the names are completely in accordance with IUPAC rules. … In fact, I see it as thrilling to recognize that international collaborations were at the core of these discoveries and that these new names also make the discoveries somewhat tangible.”