Periodic table

In this collection we explore the history and significance of the periodic table. We cover its origins and evolution, from Dmitri Mendeleev’s groundbreaking arrangement to the modern periodic table’s organisation, its influence and role in science and culture, the discovery of new elements and element scarcity.



A picture of Mendeleev with his 1869 periodic table

The father of the periodic table


Mike Sutton looks at how Mendeleev’s patience revealed periodicity in the elements

Primo Levi and the other periodic table


Author and chemist Primo Levi was born 100 years ago this July. Philip Ball looks at his chemical and literary legacy – including his books The Periodic Table and If This Is a Man

Ordering the elements


From the law of octaves to the periodic table as we know it, Mike Sutton traces how chemists put their house in order

Predicting and discovering in chemistry


How scientists look into the past, present and future

Period of discovery


Chemical space contained sufficient information to formulate the periodic system 25 years before Mendeleev

New candidate for oldest classroom periodic table emerges in Russia


Hand painted table commissioned by Mendeleev dates back to 1876

New elements

Oak Ridge Laboratory

What it takes to make a new element


Yuri Oganessian tells us how nihonium, moscovium, tennessine and oganesson were made

The story of how the most successful US–Russia scientific collaboration collapsed


Five jointly discovered superheavy elements completed the eighth row of the periodic but then Russian revanchism reared its head

Superheavy elements forged in giant stellar collisions


Nuclei with mass numbers above 260 are produced in r -process events

Berkeley Lab to lead US hunt for element 120 after breakdown of collaboration with Russia


Fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sees US go it alone on efforts to synthesise new elements

Superheavy element flerovium is likely to be a liquid at room temperature


Element 114 predicted to be a volatile semiconductor with a melting point around 10°C

Masataka Ogawa and the search for nipponium


Could a Japanese scientist, whose claim to have discovered an element was dismissed, been right all along? Kit Chapman investigates