Elements 116 and 117 in our International Year of the Periodic Table series are livermorium and tennessine. Tennessine, first created in 2010, is the most recently discovered element in the periodic table as of 2019.
From two elements with name roots in Russia last time around to two elements with name roots in America. Both of these elements were discovered through US-Russia collaborative efforts – a far cry from the element naming squabbles that sprung from the discoveries of the earlier superheavy elements. In the spirit of this collaboration, livermorium’s name comes from the name of a US laboratory, despite the element being first created in Russia.
Tennessine, named after the state of Tennessee, ditches the familiar ‘-ium’ ending that most of the superheavy elements take on for the ‘-ine’ ending common to the halogen group to which it belongs. As yet, we don’t know enough about tennessine’s chemistry to know whether it’s actually a good fit for this group. Usually, elements in the same group behave similarly in chemical reactions, but it’s likely to be incredibly difficult to make enough atoms of tennessine to put this to the test. The likelihood is that investigations into its properties will be made largely on the basis of predictive calculations instead.
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.