The 14th International Conference on

Miniaturized Systems for Chemistry and Life Sciences

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Tennessine is a synthetic chemical element with the symbol Ts and atomic number 117. It is the second-heaviest known element and the penultimate element of the 7th period of the periodic table.

Tennessine may be located in the "island of stability", a concept that explains why some superheavy elements are more stable compared to an overall trend of decreasing stability for elements beyond bismuth on the periodic table. The synthesized tennessine atoms have lasted tens and hundreds of milliseconds. In the periodic table, tennessine is expected to be a member of group 17, all other members of which are halogens. Some of its properties may significantly differ from those of the halogens due to relativistic effects. As a result, tennessine is expected to be a volatile metal that neither forms anions nor achieves high oxidation states. A few key properties, such as its melting and boiling points and its first ionization energy, are nevertheless expected to follow the periodic trends of the halogens.

Hamilton checked if the ORNL high-flux reactor produced californium for a commercial order: the required berkelium could be obtained as a by-product. He learned that it did not and there was no expectation for such an order in the immediate future. Hamilton kept monitoring the situation, making the checks once in a while. (Later, Oganessian referred to Hamilton as "the father of 117" for doing this work.)

In November 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy, which had oversight over the reactor in Oak Ridge, allowed the scientific use of the extracted berkelium. The production lasted 250 days and ended in late December 2008, resulting in 22 milligrams of berkelium, enough to perform the experiment. In January 2009, the berkelium was removed from ORNL's High Flux Isotope Reactor; it was subsequently cooled for 90 days and then processed at ORNL's Radiochemical Engineering and Development Center to separate and purify the berkelium material, which took another 90 days. Its half-life is only 330 days: after that time, half the berkelium produced would have decayed. Because of this, the berkelium target had to be quickly transported to Russia; for the experiment to be viable, it had to be completed within six months of its departure from the United States. The target was packed into five lead containers to be flown from New York to Moscow.

All daughter isotopes (decay products) of element 117 were previously unknown; therefore, their properties could not be used to confirm the claim of discovery. In 2011, when one of the decay products (289115) was synthesized directly, its properties matched those measured in the claimed indirect synthesis from the decay of element 117. The discoverers did not submit a claim for their findings in 2007–2011 when the Joint Working Party was reviewing claims of discoveries of new elements.

In March 2016, the discovery team agreed on a conference call involving representatives from the parties involved on the name "tennessine" for element 117. In June 2016, IUPAC published a declaration stating the discoverers had submitted their suggestions for naming the new elements 115, 117, and 118 to the IUPAC; the suggestion for the element 117 was tennessine, with a symbol of Ts, after "the region of Tennessee". The suggested names were recommended for acceptance by the IUPAC Inorganic Chemistry Division; formal acceptance was set to occur after a five-months term following publishing of the declaration expires. In November 2016, the names, including tennessine, were formally accepted. Concerns that the proposed symbol Ts may clash with a notation for the tosyl group used in organic chemistry were rejected, following existing symbols bearing such dual meanings: Ac (actinium and acetyl) and Pr (praseodymium and propyl). The naming ceremony for moscovium, tennessine, and oganesson was held in March 2017 at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow; a separate ceremony for tennessine alone had been held at ORNL in January 2017.


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