New Element Names Announced by the IUPAC

Proposed Names and Symbols for Elements 113, 115, 117, and 119

Proposed names for element 113, 115, 117, and 118 are nihonium, moscovium, tennesine, and oganesson.
Proposed names for element 113, 115, 117, and 118 are nihonium, moscovium, tennesine, and oganesson. Todd Helmenstine, sciencenotes.org

The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) has announced the new names proposed for recently discovered elements 113, 115, 117, and 118. Here's the rundown of the element names, their symbols, and the origin of the names.

Atomic NumberElement NameElement SymbolName Origin
113nihoniumNhJapan
115moscoviumMcMoscow
117tennessineTsTennessee
118oganessonOgYuri Oganessian

Discovery and Naming of Four New Elements

In January of 2016, the IUPAC confirmed the discovery of elements 113, 115, 117, and 118.

At this time, the discoverers of the elements were invited to submit suggestions for the new element names. According to the international criteria, the name must be for a scientist, mythological figure or idea, geological location, mineral, or element property.

Kosuke Morita's group at RIKEN in Japan discovered element 113 by bombarding a bismuth target with zinc-70 nuclei. The initial discovery occurred in 2004 and was confirmed in 2012. The researchers have proposed the name nihonium (Nh) in honor of Japan (Nihon koku in Japanese).

Elements 115 and 117 were first discovered in 2010 by the Joint Institute of Nuclear Research together with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Russian and American researchers responsible for discovering elements 115 and 117 have proposed the names moscovium (Mc) and tennessine (Ts), both for geological locations. Moscovium is named for the city of Moscow, the location of the Joint Institute of Nuclear Research.

Tennessine is a tribute to the superheavy element research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Collaborators from the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research and Lawrence Livermore National Lab proposed the name oganesson (Og) for element 118 in honor of the Russian physicist who led the team that first synthesized the element, Yuri Oganessian.

The -ium Ending?

If you're wondering about the -ine ending of tennesine and -on enging of oganesson as opposed to the usual -ium ending of most elements, this has to do with the periodic table group to which these elements belong. Tennessine is in the element group with the halogens (e.g., chlorine, bromine), while oganesson is a noble gas (e.g. argon, krypton).

From Proposed Names to Official Names

There is a five month consultation process during which scientists and the public will have the opportunity to review the proposed names and see if they present any issues in different languages. After this time, if there is no objection to the names, they will become official.