A team of Japanese nuclear physicists began experimenting with collisions between small and large atomic nuclei to synthesize new superheavy elements and discover new chemistry.
So far, scientists have managed to create all the elements in the first seven rows. – from hydrogen with one proton to oganesson, which has 118. Further research is hampered by the instability of superheavy elements due to the large number of protons. For example, the most stable isotope of nionium (113 protons) has a half-life of almost eight seconds, while for oganesson it is about 0.7 ms..
However, theorists believe that this figure may change for more massive nuclei, which will allow to obtain long-lived superheavy elements that will open up a new type of chemistry with longer reactions. To do this, scientists first need to know the repulsive force that the nuclei experience when approaching.
A team of researchers from Japan’s Institute for Physico-Chemical Research (RIKEN) said they have already begun experiments to collide small nuclei of neon, magnesium and calcium with larger atoms of curium and uranium, measuring how they scatter. Scientists estimate that the synthesis of one atom of a superactinoid will take more than three months..
If the observed tendencies of the repulsive barrier and deformation are also valid for heavier nuclei, then the calculation of the optimal collision energy will take about a day. In the short term, the team plans to use this knowledge to create new elements. under the numbers 119 and 120. However, it will take at least a decade to discover stable isotopes of superheavy nuclei of the eighth period, since they will have unusual properties.
We also previously reported on the development of a new nuclear fusion method. using relativistic effects.
text: Ilya Bauer, photo: RIKEN, Getty Images