Flerovium and livermorium are the new monikers for elements 114 and 116. The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry approved the names last week. Credit: LLNL.

This came out last Thursday, so it borders on old news, but I was on vacation last week and am catching up with the news in our world. But, perhaps you were on vacation, too!

Last Thursday the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry gave official approval to the proposed names of elements 114 and 116, two of the newer elements in the Periodic Table of the Elements.

Element 114 henceforth will be known as flerovium (atomic symbol Fl) in honor of the Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions (Dubna, Russia), where superheavy elements are synthesized, including this element. The lab is named in honor of physicist Georgiy N. Flerov who codiscovered the spontaneous fission of uranium in 1940 with Konstantin A. Petrahak. An IUPAC press release says that Flerov did his work in heavy-ion physics in the lab he founded, the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in the Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions in 1957, and in 1991, the lab renamed itself in honor of Flerov.

Element 116 is now livermorium (atomic symbol Lv) in honor of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. A LLNL press release says that Livermore scientists collaborated with Flerov scientists in the lab in Russia to synthesize superheavy elements, including livermorium. This is the second element whose name has a connection to LLNL: lawrencium (element 103) honors E.O. Lawrence, founder of LLNL.

The IUPAC press release says the proposals for both elements were “in line with tradition” for naming of elements. The new names will be officially announced in the July issue of IUPAC’s journal, Pure and Applied Chemistry.

A story on LiveScience.com says Livermorium was first observed in 2000. The LLNL press release provides some background on how Flerovium and Livermorium were synthesized:

The creation of elements 116 and 114 involved smashing calcium ions (with 20 protons each) into a curium target (96 protons) to create element 116. Element 116 decayed almost immediately into element 114. The scientists also created element 114 separately by replacing curium with a plutonium target (94 protons).

The creation of elements 114 and 116 generate hope that the team is on its way to the “island of stability,” an area of the periodic table in which new heavy elements would be stable or last long enough for applications to be found.

According to the LiveScience story, the elements are very large and can only be made in the lab. They are very unstable, too, and quickly disintegrate into other elements. These are part of the family of so-called “superheavy” or transuranium elements.

Last fall, three other new heavy elements gained names: darmstadtium (Ds, element 110), roentgenium (Rg, element 111) and copernicium (Cn, element 112).