Flerovium and livermorium debut on periodic table

New element names honor work of Russian and American laboratories

Two labs and longtime partners in creating synthetic superheavy chemicals have been honored by new names for two of those elements. Element number 114 is now officially known as flerovium (symbol Fl), after the Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions in Russia. And element 116 is now livermorium (Lv), after the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry announced the new names May 30.

Both elements were created at the Flerov lab in Dubna, Russia, by hurling calcium ions, with 20 protons each, into a piece of curium with 96 protons. That merger made element 116, which decayed almost immediately into element 114 and then into lighter elements. Element 114 was also created by colliding calcium with plutonium, element 94 (SN: 2/6/99, p. 85).

The naming of superheavy elements is often a battle for prestige over who should get credit for the discovery. But both elements were discovered by a Flerov/Livermore collaboration, and IUPAC agreed with their proposal that each should be honored.

Still awaiting formal names are elements 113, 115, 117 and 118.

Alexandra Witze is a contributing correspondent for Science News. Based in Boulder, Colo., Witze specializes in earth, planetary and astronomical sciences.

More Stories from Science News on Chemistry