The berkelium target used for the synthesis (in solution)

A new element will soon join the others on the periodic table. Since scientists have managed to create a new super heavy radioactive substance, twice.

The substance has been named Ununsentium and was first discovered four years ago by Russian and American scientists.


Now, a German research team recently managed to recreate four atoms of this element at the GSI Helmholts center for heavy ion research in Darmstadt.

The name Ununseptium is a direct translation of the number 117 in Latin and is derived from the fact that it will occupy that particular place in the periodic table.

The element is indeed very heavy, with a total of 117 protons found in its nucleus. It is so heavy that it can only exist for a few fractions of a second before decaying into Dubnium and Lawrencium.

The German scientists were actually trying to create the element 119 by firing Titanium atoms against Berkelium but accidentally created Ununseptium instead.

Elements heavier and with a higher atomic number than Uranium 92 is extremely rare in nature. The paper describing the experiment will be published in the magazine Physical Review Letters. The organization International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry will determine if Ununseptium is to be considered as an official element or not.


J. Khuyagbaatar et al. 2014. Ca48+Bk249 Fusion Reaction Leading to Element Z=117: Long-Lived α-Decaying Db270 and Discovery of Lr266. Phys. Rev. Lett. 112, 172501; doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.112.172501