Scientists have announced that Tennessine is now the official name for the element in location 117 on the periodic table.
In June, researchers submitted the name Tennessine in a nod to the state of Tennessee, where three major research institutions took part in the element’s discovery. Now that the probationary period has gone by, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry’s recognition of the element is permanent.
“The historic discovery of Tennessine is emblematic of the contributions Tennessee institutions like Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of Tennessee and Vanderbilt University make toward a better world,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said in a press release. “On behalf of all Tennesseans we thank this world body for honoring our state this way.”
Tennessine, which will have the symbol Ts, joins Californium as the only elements named after a US state. Furthermore, because Tennessee got its name from the Cherokee village of Tanasi, the element is now the first to reflect Native American culture.
IUPAC, the state body that approves elements and their symbols, started the sanctioning the element’s discovery around one year ago, over five years after scientists first reported on its discovery.
A New Superheavy Element
Tennessine is a member of Group 17, a group referred to as the halogens, on the periodic table. The group also includes fluorine, chlorine, bromine, iodine, and astatine. Tennessine is regarded as a superheavy element, one can only be synthesized in a lab because it does not appear naturally.
Tennessine was officially recognized along with three other elements after a five-month waiting period when IUPAC requested public comments. The general public by no means had a chance of actually naming the elements directly, a lesson likely learned through the Boaty McBoatface debacle. Although that didn’t stop people from trying to suggest names.
“Overall, it was a real pleasure to realize that so many people are interested in the naming of the new elements, including high-school students, making essays about possible names and telling how proud they were to have been able to participate in the discussions,” Jan Reedijk, president of IUPAC’s inorganic chemistry division, said in a statement Wednesday. “For now, we can all cherish our periodic table completed down to the seventh row.”
Image credit: ORNL
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