4 new periodic elements named Nihonium, Moscovium, Tennessine & Oganesson

© Dmitry Astakhov
Four new names will soon grace the Periodic Table of chemical elements, first developed in the 19th century by Russian chemistry professor Dmitri Mendeleev. Two of the four new elements will have names associated with Russia.

The four new elements that will be included in the seventh row of the table, under the proposal of International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), will be named Nihonium (Nh), Moscovium (Mc), Tennessine (Ts), and Oganesson (Og).

Elements 113, 115, 117, and 118 were formally recognized by IUPAC in December, but now the Union has presented a list of names that were proposed by the people who helped discover them. Unless the public voices strong opposition to the new names by November 8, IUPAC will enshrine the elements into the table permanently.

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Nihonium (Nh) is the proposed name for element 113 due to its discovery at RIKEN in Japan. It will be the first element to be named after a location in East Asia. Nihon is one of the two ways to say “Japan” in Japanese.

Element 115 has the proposed name of Moscovium (Mc) after the location of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Moscow, Russia.

“Moscovium is in recognition of the Moscow region and honors the ancient Russian land that is the home of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, where the discovery experiments were conducted using the Dubna Gas-Filled Recoil Separator in combination with the heavy ion accelerator capabilities of the Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions,” IUPAC said in the press release.

Element 117 has the proposed name of Tennessine (Ts), referencing the US state of Tennessee which is home to the US Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Lastly, element 118 has the proposed name of Oganesson (Og), in honor of the Russian nuclear physicist Yuri Oganessian who led the team that synthesized it. In the statement, IUPAC notes that Oganessian’s achievements “included the discovery of superheavy elements and significant advances in the nuclear physics of superheavy nuclei including experimental evidence for the 'island of stability.'”

Under the Union’s rule, newly discovered elements can be named after a mythological concept or character, a mineral, a place, geographical region, property of the element, or a scientist.

“It is a pleasure to see that specific places and names (country, state, city, and scientist) related to the new elements is recognized in these four names. Although these choices may perhaps be viewed by some as slightly self-indulgent, the names are completely in accordance with IUPAC rules,” Jan Reedijk of Leiden University, who corresponded with the various laboratories and invited the discoverers to make proposals.