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VISUALIZING SYNTHETIC ELEMENTS

Figure 17

Subatomic particle expelled

N o element heavier than uranium, with 92 protons and 146 neutrons, is typically found in nature. But by using a device called a particle accelerator, scientists can make synthetic elements with atomic numbers greater than that of uranium.Within the accelerator, atomic nuclei are made to collide at high speeds in the hope that some will fuse together to form new, heavier elements.These“heavy” synthetic elements are radioactive isotopes, some of which are so unstable that they survive only a fraction of a second before emitting radioactive particles and decaying into other, lighter elements.

Atom A

Atom B

Nuclear fusion

Energy given off

New synthetic element

  • When atoms collide in an accelerator,

their nuclei may undergo a fusion reaction to form a new—and often short-lived— synthetic element. Energy and one or more subatomic particles typically are given off in the process.

  • Inside the airless vacuum chamber of a particle

accelerator, such as this one in Hesse, Germany, streams of atoms move at incredibly high speeds.

Recently, the IUPAC (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry) General Assembly confirmed the official name and symbol of element 110.Element 110 was previously known as Ununnilium and its symbol was Uun.The new name is darmstadtium and its sym- bol is Ds.Element 111 is expected to receive its official name and symbol in the near future.

SECTION 3 Transition Elements K

115

(l)Achim Zschau, (r)Ted Streshinsky/CORBIS

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