Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have been able to confirm the production of the superheavy element 114, ten years after a group in Russia, at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, first claimed to have made it. The search for 114 has long been a key part of the quest for nuclear science’s hoped-for Island of Stability.
Heino Nitsche, head of the Heavy Element Nuclear and Radiochemistry Group in Berkeley Lab’s Nuclear Science Division (NSD) and a professor of chemistry at the University of California at Berkeley, and Ken Gregorich, a senior staff scientist in NSD, led the team that independently confirmed the production of the new element, which was first published by the Dubna Gas Filled Recoil Separator group.
Using an instrument called the Berkeley Gas-filled Separator (BGS) at Berkeley Lab’s 88-Inch Cyclotron, the researchers were able to confirm the creation of two individual nuclei of element 114, each a separate isotope having 114 protons but different numbers of neutrons, and each decaying…
The researchers identified the two isotopes as 286114 (114 protons and 172 neutrons) and 287114 (114 protons and 173 neutrons). The former, 286114, decayed in about a tenth of a second by emitting an alpha particle (2 protons and 2 neutrons, a helium nucleus) – thus becoming a “daughter” nucleus of element 112 – which subsequently spontaneously fissioned into smaller nuclei. The latter,287114, decayed in about half a second by emitting an alpha particle to form 112, which also then emitted an alpha particle to form daughter element 110, before spontaneously fissioning into smaller nuclei.
The Berkeley Group’s success in finding these two 114 nuclei and tracking their decay depended on sophisticated methods of detection, data collection, and concurrent data analysis. After passing through the BGS, the candidate nucleus enters a detector chamber. If a candidate element 114 atom is detected, and is subsequently seen to decay by alpha-particle emission, the cyclotron beam instantly shuts off so further decay events can be recorded without background interference. …
“One surprise was that the 114 nuclei had much smaller cross sections – were much less likely to form – than the Dubna group reported,” Nitsche says. “We expected to get about six in our eight-day experiment but only got two. Nevertheless, the decay modes, lifetimes, and energies were all consistent with the Dubna reports and amply confirm their achievement.”
Says Gregorich, “Based on the ideas of the 1960s, we thought when we got to element 114 we would have reached the Island of Stability. More recent theories suggest enhanced stability at other proton numbers, perhaps 120, perhaps 126. The work we’re doing now will help us decide which theories are correct and how we should modify our models.”
Nitsche adds, “During the last 20 years, many relatively stable isotopes have been discovered that lie between the known heavy element isotopes and the Island of Stability – essentially they can be considered as ‘stepping stones’ to this island. The question is, how far does the Island extend – from 114 to perhaps 120 or 126? And how high does it rise out the Sea of Instability.”…
via Superheavy Element 114 Confirmed: A Stepping Stone to the Island of Stability « Berkeley Lab News Center.
Surprising element 114 results eh? I wonder if Bob Lazar was right about element 115. 😉
The reactor is a closed system which uses the Element 115 as its fuel. The element is also the source of the gravity-A wave which is amplified for space/time distortion and travel.
Don’t understand “Island of Stability”? Quick review:
An isotope is a variant on a basic element, a substance made of atoms with a different number of neutrons than is typical. Except for hydrogen, every atomic nucleus in normal matter is made of both protons and neutrons; the only question is how many of each there are. Typically, the number of protons and neutrons is the same. In an isotope, this balance is frequently broken. For example, 238U, the most common state of uranium, has three more neutrons than 235U, the form used in nuclear weapons.
A lack of necessary neutrons makes a nucleus unstable. Protons in the nucleus are positively charged, meaning they repel each other. The presence of neutrons is necessary to separate these protons slightly, making the configuration stable. When the configuration is unstable, nuclear decay can result, turning the atoms into showers of radioactive particles.
The rate at which the isotope decays is given by its half-life, the interval after which half of the material breaks down. Half-life varies between a fraction of a second and many times longer than the age of the universe. Some isotopes, like Helium-3, are not radioactive. – wizegeek
Wikipedia says it nicely:
Isotopes are different types of atoms (nuclides) of the same chemical element, each having a different atomic mass (mass number). Isotopes of an element have nuclei with the same number of protons (the same atomic number) but different numbers of neutrons. Therefore, isotopes of the same element have different mass numbers (number of nucleons). For example, carbon-12, carbon-13 and carbon-14 are three isotopes of the element carbon with mass numbers 12, 13 and 14. Carbon has atomic number 6 so each of its isotopes has 6 protons. The neutron numbers in these isotopes are therefore 12-6 = 6, 13-6 = 7, and 14-6 = 8 respectively. – wiki
Carbon is element 6, because six protons are what make carbon carbon. Copy? Element 114 has 114 protons in its nucleus. With 114 protons and 173 neutrons, element 114 decayed to element 112 in about half a second by emitting an alpha-particle (two protons and two neutrons).
Something like gold is made up of the same protons and neutrons as lead or any other element. What makes gold have the properties of gold is just the number of protons. If an element’s number of protons changes, it becomes another element. Therefore, lead can become gold.
Transmutation of lead into gold isn’t just theoretically possible – it has been achieved! There are reports that Glenn Seaborg, 1951 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, succeeded in transmuting a minute quantity of lead (possibly en route from bismuth, in 1980) into gold. There is an earlier report (1972) in which Soviet physicists at a nuclear research facility near Lake Baikal in Siberia accidentally discovered a reaction for turning lead into gold when they found the lead shielding of an experimental reactor had changed to gold. Today particle accelerators routinely transmute elements. – about.com
Tip: If you want to spend the tremendous amount of money and energy it takes to make gold, remember this:
Since there is only one stable gold isotope, 197Au, nuclear reactions must create this isotope in order to produce usable gold. – wiki