Physicists from Lund University in Sweden led a group of scientists in confirming the existence of and the ability to produce an element with an atomic number of 115 according to a report in the Aug. 27, 2013, issue of the journal The Physical Review.
The element had been previously created by the same means and methodology in 2003 by Russian scientists at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research facility in Dubna, and by scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the United States.
The element has no official name because no one was sure that it existed. The new element and was dubbed ununpentium in 2003.
The new element was created by bombarding a film of americium with calcium ions. Ununpentium is very unstable and exists for an extremely short time before it breaks down into smaller fragments. The existence of the element is confirmed by analysis of the expected energies released during the element’s alpha decay.
This is an important achievement. Heavy elements have been predicted to exist with atomic weights and atomic numbers greater than those known at present that are stable. The creation of ununpentium confirms the methodology and opens the door to the creation of as yet unknown elements that are stable.
The trick to stability is creating an atom with enough neutrons to balance the repulsive forces of the large number of protons in heavy elements. Attempts have been made but there has been no success to date.