Forget earth, wind, water and fire – there are four new elements in town. The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) has announced that recently discovered elements 113, 115, 117 and 118 will now be known as nihonium, moscovium, tennessine and oganesson, pending a public review.
The four elements, which complete the seventh row of the periodic table, were officially recognised in January this year following discoveries by teams in Japan, Russia and the US, which submitted names to governing body IUPAC.
Researchers at RIKEN in Wako, Japan proposed nihonium (symbol Nh) for their discovery, element 113, after Nihon, one of the Japanese words for “Japan”.
Moscovium (Mc) and tennessine (Ts), formally elements 115 and 117, were proposed by teams at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Vanderbilt University and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in the US, after Moscow and Tennessee.
Finally, oganesson (Og) was proposed by the Dubna and LLNL teams after Yuri Oganessian, a Russian physicist who helped discover element 114 in 1999. It and element 116, now known as flerovium and livermorium, were the last to join the periodic table, back in 2011.
The IUPAC limits choices for elements names to mythological characters, minerals, places, properties of the element, or scientists – ruling out public calls to name an element after heavy-metal band Motörhead frontman Lemmy, who died earlier this year.
The new names will now undergo a five-month public review to allow for any potential objections, meaning they could officially join the periodic table by the end of this year. In the meantime, the hunt for heavier elements, and the first entry of the eighth row, continues.