Local scientists aid in discovery of 3 new elements

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory works with Russian researchers on project

A team of scientists in the Bay Area, working in concert with an international group of researchers, has officially discovered a trio of new elements, according to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

The lab's officials announced Thursday that the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry confirmed the discovery of elements 115, 117 and 118.

The lab's scientists collaborated with the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia, as well as other researchers, to discover the elements.

"This is a very exciting time for our collaboration and shows that all of the hard work has paid off," Dawn Shaughnessy, a principal investigator at the labs, said in a statement.

Shaughnessy said creating a new chemical element can take "endless hours" and "years of work" by researchers, both locally and abroad.

None of the new elements has yet been named.

Back in 2011, the global chemistry organization that recently confirmed the new elements officially named element 116 - another discovery that locals participated in - Livermorium, after the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

According to the lab's officials, all of the elements are referred to as super-heavy elements. None are observed in nature. They can only be created in a lab.

To date, element 118 is the heaviest element to be discovered.

The discoveries are a significant step toward examining the existence of a region that extends the current periodic table to even heavier elements with the potential for experimentation, lab officials said.

Brett Johnson, Bay City News

— Bay City News Service

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