New Delhi: Four new names will soon be added to the periodic table as scientists have put forth their recommendations for the names of elements 113, 115, 117 and 118. The names proposed for the new elements are in honour of Japan, Moscow, Tennessee, and a Russian scientist.

The discovery of these elements is important for scientists across the world chasing the elusive goal of reaching what is called “island of stability". The concept of the “island of stability" was originally proposed in the 1960s and predicts increased stability for superheavy nuclei at higher neutron and proton numbers.

The periodic table shows us all the elements that make up our world in the order of their atomic number, electron configurations and chemical properties.

Elements heavier than uranium (with 92 protons), are not produced in nature but are made by scientists in labs. These elements are created using particle accelerators which smash two atoms which can sometimes merge and form a new element.

Element 113, discovered by a RIKEN group in Japan led by Kosuke Morita, is the first element on the periodic table found in an Asian country. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia (JINR) late last year were recognized for discovering elements 115 and 118, while LLNL, JINR, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Vanderbilt University and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas were recognized for the discovery of element 117.

On Wednesday, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) opened a public comment period for the recommended names of elements 113, 115, 117 and 118. These elements complete the seventh row of the periodic table of the elements, and the discoverers from Japan, Russia and the USA were invited to suggest permanent names and symbols and these have now been disclosed for public review:

Nihonium and symbol Nh, for the element 113, derived from Nihon, one of the two ways to say “Japan" in Japanese. The name literally means “the Land of Rising Sun". The name is proposed by Japanese scientists to make a direct connection to the nation where the element was discovered.

Moscovium and symbol Mc, for the element 115, in recognition of Moscow and in honour of the ancient Russian land that is the home of the JINR. It was here that the discovery experiments were conducted using the Dubna Gas-Filled Recoil Separator in combination with the heavy ion accelerator capabilities of the Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions.

Tennessine and symbol Ts, for the element 117, in recognition of the contribution of the Tennessee region, including Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, to superheavy element research. This includes the experiments carried out at High Flux Isotope Reactor and Radiochemical Engineering Development Center.

Oganesson and symbol Og, for the element 118, was proposed by the collaborating teams of discoverers at the JINR and LLNA. It honours Yuri Oganessian, the scientist who discovered superheavy elements and is credited with major advances in the nuclear physics of superheavy nuclei including experimental evidence for the “island of stability".

The provisional names will undergo a statutory period for public review before the names and symbols can be finally approved by the IUPAC Council — later this year.