7. Riken develops device for discovering new elements
A Japanese research team that created a new atomic element, "nihonium," says it has developed a device for making further discoveries.
The group at the Riken institute says the equipment will be the key to discovering the 119th element and they are studying how to synthesize it.
The group is led by Kyushu University Professor Kosuke Morita. Nihonium was added to the periodic table last year as the 113th element.
The members say new elements are created by causing known ones to collide at 10 percent of the speed of light to trigger nuclear fusion.
But they say that the probability of such fusion occurring is extremely low, and even if an extremely tiny amount of an unknown element is synthesized, the existing devices were only able to collect very small quantities.
They say it takes more than 10 years to confirm the creation of new elements because of these difficulties.
The researchers say the high collection efficiency of the new equipment is expected to shorten the confirmation time to several hundred days.
Kouji Morimoto of Riken says the researchers are finally ready to create new elements. He says he would like to start experiments as soon as possible to achieve another "world first."