The world's governing body for chemistry has proposed naming a new element after Russian physicist Yuri Oganessian, a 2014-15 Faculty Fellow with the Texas A&M University Institute for Advanced Study (TIAS) and longtime Cyclotron Institute collaborator.


The world's governing body for chemistry, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), has proposed naming a new element after Russian physicist Yuri Oganessian, a 2014-15 Faculty Fellow with the Texas A&M University Institute for Advanced Study (TIAS) and a Texas A&M Cyclotron Institute collaborator.

Under the proposal from IUPAC, the new element with the atomic number 118 will receive the name "oganesson" and the periodic symbol Og. (An atomic number is the number of protons found in the nucleus of an atom of a specific element.) The element is one of four to be added to the table in January after a confirmation process. If the name is approved on Nov. 8 following a public review, it will mark only the second time in history that an element has been named for a living scientist.

In a statement, IUPAC said its proposal recognizes Oganessian for his pioneering contributions to research into elements with atomic numbers greater than 103, including "the discovery of superheavy elements and significant advances in the nuclear physics of superheavy nuclei."

"It is a great honor for me as well as a measure of my input into the science of the super heavy elements," Oganessian said.

The 83-year-old Oganessian is the scientific leader of the Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, about 80 miles north of Moscow, where he has worked since 1956. The new element is one of six that he and his team have discovered since 2000. Oganessian's collaborators during the last 20 years in addition to the Cyclotron Institute have included Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Vanderbilt University.

"We congratulate Dr. Oganessian on receiving this rare, history-making honor and applaud his many fundamental contributions to chemistry," said TIAS Founding Director John L. Junkins. "His achievements in discovery of methods to synthesize heretofore unknown heavy elements have transformed his field and epitomize the high levels of innovation and advanced scholarship that the Fellows of our Institute bring to the Texas A&M campus every year."

Each year TIAS invites a number of nationally and internationally prominent Faculty Fellows to pursue advanced study at TIAS in collaboration with faculty and student scholars at Texas A&M. As a Faculty Fellow, Oganessian collaborated with Texas A&M faculty and students in the Cyclotron Institute and the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Science.

An acknowledged leader in experimental nuclear physics and a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Oganessian conducts research into nuclear reactions with a focus on the synthesis of new chemical elements.

"My scientific interests for many years have connected with the experimental research of the heaviest elements at the border of the nuclear masses -- the synthesis of nuclear heavyweights in nuclear reactions, their transformation and decay properties," Oganessian said. "This is a wide field that includes the latest accomplishments in nuclear physics, nuclear chemistry, plasma physics, accelerator technology, etc."

Oganessian proposed -- and, with his colleagues, developed -- a method to synthesize extremely heavy nuclei through fusion reactions of calcium-48 nuclei, an extremely rare isotope of calcium with 20 protons and 28 neutrons, with nuclei of artificial actinide elements.

"We have been working for more than 20 years with our American colleagues from Livermore National Laboratory and the Cyclotron Institute of Texas A&M University," Oganessian said. "Later in the collaboration, physicists and chemists from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Vanderbilt University were included. In the time span of 15 years -- from 2000 to 2015 -- six elements with atomic numbers of 113 through 118 were synthesized for the first time. Our articles were signed by 50 co-authors."

Dr. Sherry J. Yennello, Regents Professor of Chemistry and Cyclotron Institute director, describes Oganessian as a longtime friend of the institute -- a fruitful relationship that has produced more than a dozen research papers in two primary areas, nuclear fission and nuclear structure, during the past 20 years. Yennello notes that as a TIAS Faculty Fellow, Oganessian worked directly with Cyclotron faculty, staff and students in addition to presenting multiple lectures, organizing the 2015 International Symposium on Super Heavy Nuclei (SHN) and discussing future directions for both nuclear science research and his ongoing relationship with Texas A&M in that regard.

"We have had lots of discussion about how we might collaborate moving forward with the SHE factory in Dubna, but such talks are still preliminary," Yennello said. "I think he would like for Texas A&M University to be a major player, perhaps the lead on the U.S. beam line. Professor Cody Folden looks forward to possibly studying the chemistry of the heaviest elements at the SHE factory, while Dr. Greg Chubarian is already involved in working on design of a high efficiency recoil spectrometer."

To learn more about the Texas A&M University Institute for Advanced Study, visit http://tias.tamu.edu.

For additional information about the Texas A&M Cyclotron Institute, go to http://cyclotron.tamu.edu.

Read related news coverage in the Bryan-College Station Eagle, the Battalion, Smithsonian magazine, the journal Nature and CNN.

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Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu or Dr. Sherry J. Yennello, (979) 845-1411 or yennello@comp.tamu.edu

Cawley Rusty

  • Dr. Yuri Oganessian

  • Oganessian, discussing his potential namesake element with Cyclotron Institute Director Dr. Sherry J. Yennello.

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