Where is the missing element?

René Jansen, Regional Manager EDAX, EMEA

Iron man

I have always been fascinated by the Star Trek series. It is like looking into the future and thinking, ‘when will this becomes reality to us?’ Things like time travel, voyaging through space and ‘beam me up, Scottie’. I had the same thought when I saw the movie ‘Iron Man’; an intelligent and rich person, Tony Stark ‘creates’ a new element which gives him power to do incredible things and be able to defeat the bad guys.

Thinking about these movies I wonder when we will discover new elements for our current periodic table of elements, which was developed by Dmitri Mendelejev and first published in 1869. We may possibly discover a new element, which allows us to move technology into a new era. It has been 50 years since a new and stable element  was added (Plutonium by Glenn Seaborg).

Sure, new elements today can be synthetically manufactured, but they are still  unstable.  As of 2014, the periodic table has 114 confirmed elements, comprising elements 1 (hydrogen) to 112 (copernicium), 114 (flerovium) and 116 (livermorium). Elements 113, 115, 117 and 118 are apparently being synthesized in laboratories,  however none of these claims have been officially confirmed by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), nor are they named. While new and stable elements may be difficult to achieve, there is a wealth of development in new alloying elements.  These bring us enhanced properties for better, stronger and more durable materials, which may bring us into the next generation of technology.

In order to keep my hopes to witness the new era with the Star Trek technology, Research Centers all over the world need to finally find the missing element to make this all possible. When it comes to my contribution to all of this, I hope that with my work at EDAX, our detector technology can help these institutes to find my missing element.

Click the table to reach the EDAX interactive periodic table of elements.


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