Source: The Oak Ridger | Staff | January 27, 2017
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam visited the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory today, Jan. 27, to congratulate the ORNL team involved in the discovery of the element tennessine, named in recognition of the vital contributions of the state of Tennessee to the international search for new superheavy elements.
UT-Battelle, the managing contractor of ORNL, is marking the discovery by providing more than 1,000 public middle schools and high schools in Tennessee with new charts of the periodic table, according to a news release. Tennessine – the official name for element 117 – completes the seventh row of the table and the column of elements classified as halogens.
The charts will include the signatures of Haslam and ORNL Director Thom Mason.
“We had two very significant announcements in Tennessee this fall as it relates to science. In October, the Nation’s Report Card announced that Tennessee students are the fastest improving in the nation in science, and in November, Tennessee became only the second state to be recognized in the periodic table of elements,” Haslam said. “Having an element named in our honor is further evidence of the scientific excellence that exists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of Tennessee, Vanderbilt University and other institutions throughout our state, and by UT-Battelle donating new periodic tables to every middle and high school in Tennessee, students can feel proud of our state’s important role in the scientific community and inspired to play a role in its future.”
Haslam spoke after Yuri Oganessian, the Russian scientist who developed the “hot fusion” method of creating superheavy elements, delivered a Eugene P. Wigner Distinguished Lecture to ORNL staff. Oganessian was joined by Victor Matveev, director of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia, where the experiment was performed.
“We appreciate Gov. Haslam’s recognition of the laboratory’s research and support staff who helped add this historic experiment to the long list of Tennessee’s scientific achievements,” said ORNL Director Thom Mason. “We also welcome Dr. Oganessian and Dr. Matveev to ORNL to mark the culmination of our long partnership to expand the horizons of physics and chemistry.”
The state of Tennessee made several contributions to tennessine’s discovery, the release said. Vanderbilt University professor Joe Hamilton, a longtime collaborator with ORNL in physics research, advocated for the experiment to discover element 117, which required the radioisotope berkelium-249.
The only source of berkelium-249 is ORNL’s High Flux Isotope Reactor and adjoining Radiochemical Engineering Development Center. When a campaign to make the industrially important radioisotope californium-252 began in 2008 under the auspices of the DOE Isotope Program, Hamilton put Oganessian in touch with ORNL Director of Science and Technology Partnerships Jim Roberto. Roberto pulled together a team of scientists and engineers to produce berkelium-249, as a byproduct of the californium production, for the experiment and to collaborate in the international research effort.