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Ununtrium is the temporary name for specific chemical element classified among the transactinide elements on the periodic table of elements. It is identified on the periodic table with the symbol "Uut," and it has an atomic number of 113. This makes it among the heaviest elements known to man, which is why it is sometimes referred to as a superheavy element. Like other transactinides, ununtrium is extremely unstable, making it very difficult to observe in the laboratory, and it cannot be found in nature. As a result, scientists must use expensive and time-consuming techniques to synthesize it in order to study it.
Characteristics and Production
This element is believed to be metallic in nature, and it might share some chemical properties with thallium; some scientists refer to it as eka-thallium. Given the general patterns that govern the periodic table, scientists can also estimate that ununtrium probably is a very reactive element, much like sodium. This element also is radioactive, like other transactinides.
Ununtrium is synthetically produced by first creating element 115, ununpentium, of which ununtrium is a decay product. A number of isotopes of ununtrium have been identified, with half lives ranging from milliseconds to minutes. The instability of this element and its isotopes makes it challenging to study. Scientists have hoped that through continued synthetic production of the element, they might be able to identify more stable forms.
Discovery and Naming
This element was jointly discovered in 2003 by teams of scientists in the United States and Russia. In 2004, Japanese researchers managed to synthesize and observe the element as well, making it the first synthetic element to be produced in Japan. The name "ununtrium" is temporary until the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) decides who gets credit for its discovery and the honor of suggesting a permanent name. "Ununtrium" is a systematic element name based on its atomic number; “un un tri” means “one one three,” and “-ium” is a standard suffix for chemical elements. It also is called element 113 (E113).
In 2011, the IUPAC determined that the criteria for discovery of element 113 had not been met, so the element was not given a permanent name. The Russian team had proposed “becquerelium” in honor of noted French physicist Henry Becquerel. The Japanese researchers had proposed “japonium” or “rikenium” in honor of their own research. Element 113 might be without a permanent name for a while; some elements have had temporary names for several decades while their nomenclature is sorted out.