Scientists Create Elusive Element 113

By Amir Khan on September 26, 2012 1:19 PM EDT

Japanese scientists have succeeded in creating the long-sought after element 113, one of the elements missing from the periodic table.

Element 113 consists of an atom with 113 protons in its nucleus, and must be created in a lab because it is not found naturally on Earth. Scientists have created elements with up to 118 protons, but element 113 has remained elusive.

Researchers from RIKEN Nishina Center for Accelerator-Based Science in Japan announced on Wednesday that they accomplished the feat on August 12. The element was created and destroyed quickly, leaving behind data that proves the group was able to create it.

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"For over nine years, we have been searching for data conclusively identifying element 113, and now that at last we have it, it feels like a great weight has been lifted from our shoulders," Kosuke Morita, leader of the research group, said in a statement.

To create element 113, researchers smashed zinc, which has 30 protons, into a thin layer of bismuth, which as 83 protons. Element 113 was created, but quickly decayed into element 101, Mendelevium.

If the finding is confirmed, it will mark the first time an Asian country has the naming rights to an element. Until now, only America, Russia and Germany have had the honors.

"I would like to thank all the researchers and staff involved in this momentous result, who persevered with the belief that one day 113 would be ours," Morita said. "For our next challenge, we look to the uncharted territory of element 119 and beyond."

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