Researchers at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) in Dubna have created the first atoms of element 118, the heaviest produced so far, by firing calcium-48 ions into californium-249. They were detected by their alpha-decay to element 116 – also a new discovery – followed by two further alpha-decays to element 112, which broke into two fission fragments of approximately equal mass. Element 118 falls into the same column as the noble gases in the Periodic Table.

The collaboration, including members of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, has found only three examples of element 118 in some 2 × 1019 events (the first in 2002 and two more in 2005). However, the odds of a fluke are 1 in 100,000. The three examples had an average lifetime of 1 ms and a total atomic mass of 294.

Further reading

Yu Ts Oganessian et al. 2006 Phys. Rev. C 74 044602.