Superheavy elements are one of the most discussed topics in the scientific community thanks to their nature. They are quite hard to study even in laboratory conditions as they don’t form naturally and disappear in a few seconds after being synthesized.
Studies focused on superheavy elements require bleeding-edge tools which are able to make use of very sensible fast atomic spectroscopy techniques. A mixed team of researchers from the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program and the Gutenberg University of Mainz has created a new optical spectroscopy method.
Superheavy elements can be located at the bottom of the period table of elements and represent a prime ground for research as scientists try to learn how such elements can exist as the numbers of electrons, protons, and neutrons are quite impressive.
Details about their inner structure can be uncovered with the help of optical spectroscopy experiments that are able to highlight element-specific spectra. Such spectra are quite important for further research as they facilitate the study of heavier elements that tend to be produced in the aftermath of neutron star mergers.
While superheavy elements were spotted for the first time several decades ago, investigations and experiments were delayed by the absence of proper optical spectroscopy methods that can match the change in physicochemical properties. At this point, nobelium is the last element that could be analyzed with optical spectroscopy methods.
The experiment was focused on lawrencium, but the new method could be employed to learn a surprising amount of information about other monoatomic ions that are spread across the periodic table. LRC is a hybrid method, gaining both the accuracy offered by laser spectroscopy and ease-of-use offered by optical spectroscopy.
More information about the new method and its potential can be found in a study published in a scientific journal.