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Pure and Applied Chemistry

The Scientific Journal of IUPAC

Ed. by Burrows, Hugh / Weir, Ron / Stohner, Jürgen

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Synthesis and decay properties of superheavy elements

Yuri Oganessian1

1Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions, Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, 141980 Dubna, Moscow, Russia

Citation Information: Pure and Applied Chemistry. Volume 78, Issue 5, Pages 889–904, ISSN (Online) 1365-3075, ISSN (Print) 0033-4545, DOI: 10.1351/pac200678050889, January 2009

Publication History

Published Online:
2009-01-01

A fundamental outcome of modern nuclear theory is the prediction of the "island of stability" in the region of hypothetical superheavy elements. A significant enhancement in nuclear stability at approaching the closed shells with Z = 114 (possibly 120 and 122) and N = 184 is expected for the nuclei with large neutron excess. For this reason, for the synthesis of nuclei with Z = 112-116 and 118, we chose the reactions 238U, 242,244Pu, 243Am, 245,248Cm, and 249Cf + 48Ca, which are characterized by fusion products with a maximal neutron excess. The formation and decay properties of the heaviest nuclei were registered with the use of a gas-filled recoil separator installed at a 48Ca-beam of the heavy-ion cyclotron. The new nuclides mainly undergo sequential α-decay, which ends with spontaneous fission (SF). The total time of decay ranges from 0.5 ms to ~1 d, depending on the proton and neutron numbers in the synthesized nuclei. The atomic number of the new elements 115 and 113 was confirmed also by an independent radiochemical experiment based on the identification of the neutron-rich isotope 268Db (TSF ~ 30 h), the final product in the chain of α-decays of the odd-odd parent nucleus 288115. The comparison of the decay properties of 29 new nuclides with Z = 104-118 and N = 162-177 gives evidence of the decisive influence of the structure of superheavy elements on their stability with respect to different modes of radioactive decay. The investigations connected with the search for superheavy elements in Nature are also presented.

The experiments were carried out at the Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions (JINR, Dubna) in collaboration with the Analytical and Nuclear Chemistry Division of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (USA).

Keywords: decay properties; spontaneous fission; stability; superheavy elements; α-decay

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