Synopsis: The More the Merrier…and Heavier

Experimentalists make considerable progress towards sustained production of superheavy elements.

Where does the periodic table end? Extending the periodic table to the artificially synthesized superheavy elements is one of the most fascinating avenues of nuclear research, offering sensitive tests of theories of nuclear physics and chemistry (see 9 April 2010 Viewpoint). The difficulties to overcome are not only that the experiments last several months, but also that at the end, they typically produce few, of the order of two or three, superheavy nuclei.

Writing in Physical Review Letters, Yuri Oganessian at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, Russia, and collaborators report on results from the bombardment of a radioactive americum-243 target by calcium-48 projectiles. After a run lasting four months, they have produced twenty-two nuclei of element 115. The high yield was achieved by optimizing beam energy and detection performance as well as by increasing beam dose. This is an improvement of more than twice the previous yields of such nuclei. Apart from the technical feat of the substantially enhanced production of this superheavy nucleus, the results from this experiment provide a wealth of information on how such superheavy elements decay, with consequences for nuclear structure physics and stability in general. – Abhishek Agarwal


More Announcements »

Subject Areas

Nuclear Physics

Previous Synopsis

String Theory

Out of Bounds

Read More »

Next Synopsis

Materials Science

Lowered Resistance Under Pressure

Read More »

Related Articles

Viewpoint: Cavity with Iron Nuclei Slows Down X Rays

Viewpoint: Cavity with Iron Nuclei Slows Down X Rays

Slow light effects have been measured for x rays using a cavity filled with iron nuclei, where the speed of light was reduced by a factor of 10,000. Read More »

Viewpoint: Cyclotron Radiation from One Electron
Particles and Fields

Viewpoint: Cyclotron Radiation from One Electron

An electron’s energy can be determined with high accuracy by detecting the radiation it emits when moving in a magnetic field. Read More »

Synopsis: Fixing a Million-Year Clock

Synopsis: Fixing a Million-Year Clock

A better measure of an iron isotope’s half-life may lead to new ways of dating astrophysical events that unfold over millions of years. Read More »

More Articles