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Element 115 discovered in Sweden

Though led by physicists at Lund, the team that made the discovery was international, a statement from the university says. The experiment that led to the super-heavy, element’s discovery was conducted at the GSI research facility in Germany. The experiment built on the findings of an earlier Russian study, the results of which were published in 2006.

Element number 115, which will receive an official name from the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) once the committee reviews the findings and decides whether more experiments are needed before acknowledging the element’s official discovery. Until that official designation arrives, the element will be called ununpentium (latin for 1-1-5 plus the common “ium” ending for elements).

Ununpentium is a synthetic element, meaning it does not naturally appear on Earth without the aid of human experimentation. Uranium, atomic number 92, is the heaviest naturally-occurring element, according to Popular Science.

To create the element, scientists bombarded a thin film of americium (atomic number 95) with calcium (atomic number 20) ions. The bombardment fused the nuclei of americium with that of calcium, resulting in an atom with 115 protons.

“This was a very successful experiment and is one of the most important in the field in recent years”, said Dirk Rudolph, a professor at the Division of Nuclear Physics at Lund University.

The creation of a new element wasn’t the only thing of interest to scientists as a result of the experiment. The team also received data that will help scientists better understand the atomic makeup and properties of super-heavy elements.

Don’t expect to see ununpentium in any future technologies, however — scientists have only been able to find practical use for elements with an atomic number of less than 100.

The results of the study were published in the journal The Physical Review Letters.

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