Monday, November 1, 2010

Scientists closer to a more stable superheavy element

Berkeley researchers, led by Berkeley Lab scientist Heino Nitsche, have produced a brand-new version of the man-made element 114 that decayed into five more novel atoms, a feat that brings them closer to their ultimate goal of making a superheavy element that can last for more than fractions of a second. Researchers have so far made elements with atomic numbers as high as 118 in their search for the so-called Island of Stability, whose residents might have unusual and useful properties. But so far, all of these elements have been short-lived. It now appears that a stable superheavy element will need to have an atomic number in the 120s — meaning that it must contain at least 120 protons. Creating such a huge atom is beyond the scope of today's technology. More>