Elements 114 and 115 in our International Year of the Periodic Table series are flerovium and moscovium. Both of these elements have only been produced in extremely small amounts, so very little is known about them.
We mentioned when looking at elements 112 and 113 that, at this heavy end of the periodic table, things start to get a bit weird and unexpected in terms of element properties. These two elements are likely no exception. We know very little about either, particularly in the case of moscovium which was only had its discovery confirmed in 2016, but some of flerovium’s calculated properties are decidedly odd.
Based on its position in the periodic table, you’d probably expect flerovium to be a solid metal at room temperature. However, calculations suggest that it’s actually a volatile metal which would be a gas at room temperature. It’s unlikely we’ll ever make enough atoms of flerovium at once to be able to observe it directly, though – its longest-lived isotope has a half-life of just two seconds.
The names of both of these elements have roots in locations in Russia. Flerovium is named after the Flerov Laboratory, itself named after nuclear physicist George Flerov. Moscovium is not named after the city of Moscow, as might be assumed, but for the Moscow Oblast region in which Moscow is found.
Remember, you can keep track of all of the previous entries in this series on the site here, or on the Royal Society of Chemistry’s dedicated page.