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Tokyo: Element 113, discovered by Japan-based RIKEN group and led by scientist Kosuke Morita, has become the first element on the periodic table found in Asia.
RIKEN is Japan's largest comprehensive research institution renowned for high-quality research in a diverse range of scientific disciplines. For Morita, 2016 will be devoted to thinking of and proposing a formal name for element 113.
"Now that we have conclusively demonstrated the existence of element 113, we plan to look to the uncharted territory of element 119 and beyond, aiming to discover the island of stability," Morita said in a statement.
The search at RIKEN for element 113 started in September 2003 when Morita's group began bombarding a thin layer of bismuth with zinc ions travelling at about 10 prcent the speed of light.
Theoretically, they would occasionally fuse, forming an atom of element 113. The team achieved its first success on July 23, 2004, less than a year after starting the experiment. Following the initial success, however, the team's luck seemed to run dry.
"For over seven years," says Morita, "we continued to search for data conclusively identifying element 113, but we just never saw another event. I was not prepared to give up, however, as I believed that one day, if we persevered, luck would fall upon us again."
Then, on August 12, 2012, the group observed the crucial event. As the chain had been clearly characterised, it demonstrated clearly that element 113 was the source of the decay chain.
In response to the new event, coupled with the group's demonstration of the decay chain, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) has announced that Morita's group will be given priority for the discovery of the new element, a privilege that includes the right to propose a name for it.