Nuclear Science


Super Heavy Element Discovery

The location of the Transactinides (super-heavy elements) shown on the Periodic Table.

ORNL is internationally recognized for its unique capability to produce various actinides as well as the ability to remotely fabricate actinide targets that are utilized in the discovery of new elements.  Blending these capabilities has allowed ORNL to play a major role in the creation of new super-heavy elements and their isotopes. In 2009 the 249Bk produced at ORNL was sent to the Joint Institute of Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia for an experiment that led to the discovery of new super-heavy element 117. These new super-heavy elements and their isotopes are supporting the confirmation of the “island of stability” model originally proposed by Glenn T. Seaborg. Current experiments in both Russia and Germany are leading to the discovery of new super-heavy elements 119 and 120 utilizing actinides from ORNL. Future experiments include the search for the heaviest nuclei of element 118 using a mixed-californium target to be provided by ORNL.

For more information, contact:
Nuclear Security and Isotope Technology Division


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