The periodic table has now grown to 118 elements. We met some of the people who make them to find out how they do it, and what they will be doing next

Chemistry World visited the Lawrence Berkely National Laboratory and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to meet some of the scientists who study superheavy metals. In this series of vidoes we ask them how they do it, how many more elements do they think they can make, and what led them to this field of study. They also tell us about their latest projects in which they will attempt to measure the masses of single atoms and perform chemistry on these short-lived elements.

Making superheavy elements

In this video, Ken Gregorich and Jackie Gates from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory explain how they make and detect superheavy elements.

The periodic table has grown to 118 elements. The atoms with the greatest masses are known as superheavy elements and they are made by fusing two lighter nuclei together.

Where will the periodic table end?

The latest elements to be discovered take the total to 118, but how much bigger will the periodic table get? Ken Gregorich of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Dawn Shaughnessy of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory – who was a member of the team behind three of the newest elements (moscovium, tennessine and oganesson) – give their opinions.

The latest elements to be discovered take the total to 118. Will there be more in the near future? Will we keep adding elements indefinitely? Chemistry World asked the element makers, where will the periodic table end?

Doing experiments on superheavy elements

Some of the experiments that produce superheavy elements have production rates of less than one atom per week. The lifetime of this individual atom is 2 seconds at best but may be as little as one millisecond. Doing chemistry with these elements is difficult. But that is not stopping  Dawn Shaughnessy and John Despotopulos of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The results could challenge the structure of the periodic table.

Now that we are able to make elements with atomic numbers as high as 118 we can start to answer the question of whether the periodic table holds for the heaviest elements. And that's what researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California are trying to do. Find out why it's much, much harder than it sounds and the strategies they are using to overcome the problems.

 more soon…