You can now greet by name two new residents of the period table of elements: Flerovium and Livermorium.
The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry officially approved names for the elements – which sit at slot 114 and 116, respectively — on May 31. They have until now gone by the temporary monikers ununquadium and ununhexium.
Both elements are man-made, having first been synthesized at the Joint Institute of Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia, in 1998 and 2000. The discoveries were confirmed with further work at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. Suggested names for the two elements have been pending since they were submitted to the IUPAC last year.
The elements were created by smashing calcium ions (with 20 protons) into curium targets (which have 96 protons), combining to form element 116, Livermorium. This element decayed almost immediately into Flerovium, with 114 protons.
In addition to providing new trivia for fifth-graders to memorize, the names honor the labs of their creation. Flerovium was chosen for Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions in Russia, a facility where many superheavy elements have been produced. The lab is named after physicist Georgiy N. Flerov, who discovered the spontaneous fission of uranium, which led to the USSR’s development of an atomic bomb.
Livermorium honors Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, which has been involved in the discovery of heavy elements 113 through 118. Another element, Lawrencium at 103, is already named after the lab’s founder, Ernest O. Lawrence.
Chemistry geeks can take note that Flerovium’s symbol will be Fl (not to be confused with fluorine) and Livermorium’s will be Lv. The official names will be published in the July issue of the IUPAC journal, Pure and Applied Chemistry.