September 29, 2009
Scientists confirm superheavy element 114
U.S. scientists say they have confirmed the production of the superheavy element 114, 10 years after a Russian group first claimed to have made it.
The researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, led by University of California-Berkeley Professor Heino Nitsche and and Berekely Lab senior staff scientist Ken Gregorich, independently confirmed the production of the new element, which was first published by the Dubna Gas Filled Recoil Separator group.
Using an instrument called the Berkeley Gas-filled Separator at Berkeley Lab's 88-Inch Cyclotron, the researchers said they were able to confirm the creation of two individual nuclei of element 114, each a separate isotope having 114 protons, but a different numbers of neutrons, and each decaying by a separate pathway.
By verifying the production of element 114, we have removed any doubts about the validity of the Dubna group's claims, Nitsche said.
This proves that the most interesting superheavy elements can in fact be made in the laboratory.
The verification of element 114 is reported in the journal Physical Review Letters.
People have been dreaming of superheavy elements since the 1960s, Gregorich added.
But it's unusual for important results like the Dubna group's claim to have produced 114 to go unconfirmed for so long. Scientists were beginning to wonder if superheavy elements were real.