Chemistry

An Overview about the Chemical Element Ununtrium



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Ununtrium (Uut) is one of the most recently discovered of the elements making up the periodic table. It is one of the radioactive, man-made, super-heavy elements produced by the forcing together of two smaller atoms to form a large short lived atom.

This particular element was one of two produced by a team of Russian scientists working at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia along with their American co-workers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Between July 14 and August 10 2003 these scientists used the Dubna gas filled separator and the U400 cyclotron to accelerate ions of calcium-43 which they fired at a target comprised of atoms of americium-243.

By careful observation and measurements of the decay patterns produced by these impacts the team of scientists concluded that they had produced four atoms of two different isotopes of a new element ununpentium (Uup). These atoms of ununpentium decayed to form another new element ununtrium. Three of the atoms were of the isotope ununpentium-288 which decayed to form ununtrium-284 while the fourth atom was ununpentium-287 which decayed into ununtrium-283. The ununtrium atoms decayed into isotopes of another, already known, super-heavy element roentgenium (element 111).

The results of this experiment were announced to the world on February 2 2004. A scientific paper detailing their discovery was published in the February 2004 edition of the peer reviewed journal "Physical Review".

As only a few atoms on ununtrium have ever been produced none of its bulk properties such as density, melting point or boiling point have been measured. The element has an atomic mass of 284 atomic mass units. Each atom contains 113 electrons and the same number of protons. Ununtrium-284 contains 171 neutrons while ununtrium 283 contains 170.

It is highly unlikely that sufficient quantities of this element will ever be made to allow its bulk properties to be measured. For this reason it will have no commercial applications but will remain of scientific interest to researchers in the field of super heavy elements.

Ununtrium and ununpentium are holding names given to newly discovered elements under the nomenclature system of the International Union for Pure and Applied Chemistry. In this system each digit of the elements' atomic number is given a name the resulting three syllables are then given the suffix "ium". Un is the syllable for the number one, tri for the number three and pent for the number five.

The holding name system was introduced to prevent the confusion that could arise when two different scientists claimed to have found a new element and each gave the element a different name. Once the claim of discovering a new element has been substantiated then they are normally given an internationally approved named. In the past other super-heavy elements have been named after scientists such as Nobel Prize winning physicist Lise Meitner (element 109, meitnerium) or places such as Dubna (element 105, dubnium).

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