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I'm in Dubna in Russia, the birthplace
of six super-heavy elements. We are on the knavish набережная Менделеева (the Mendeleev Embankment).
And here I am next to the statue of Dmitri Mendeleev and what I want to tell you about
Is the things that I've learnt in the last few days about the chances of making the super-heavy elements; 119 [and] 120.
So these are really special because they will begin the eighth period, the eighth row of Mendeleev's table.
before I came here, two days ago, I thought that there was real questions
whether or not it was possible ever to make these elements
I now realize it's much more a technical problem
People can see how this should be done,
but they can't quite work out which is the best way.
So let me try and explain to the problem.
The real success in the last few years in making elements 113 to 118
has been in the projectile of the light atom that has been accelerated towards the target
and this has been the very rare isotope of calcium
calcium 48 that has a big excess of neutrons.
The problem is that we have now got to the stage
Where we have run out of suitable target materials.
To make element 119 you need to have element 99.
That's einsteinium as the target because calcium 20 + 99 makes 119 .
The problem is that Einsteinium is a very difficult element to make.
If the Oak Ridge National Laboratory
runs a dedicated campaign to making it,
they could make 40 micrograms
which would cost somewhere between 5 and 10 million dollars
and that would be enough to make a target that was only one and a half square centimeters in area.
Much smaller than the current targets that are used for these experiments
So a whole new technology will have to be developed to stop the target overheating.
The other approach is to use a different projectile.
There are ideas of using either 51 Titanium or 54 Chromium and the existing targets.
The problem is that with Titanium and Chromium the chances of the
successful collision taking place are much less than with calcium
So you need a much more intense beam.
So there's the technical problems; choosing your projectile, choosing your targets.
Assuming you've done that, where on Earth can you do the experiment
and this is why it's been so exciting being here in Dubna
because they're building a special new facility
with a more intense beam so that these experiments can be done
and it has a terrific name the super-heavy element factory
the building is built, or almost built, and the accelerator is just being assembled.
Brady and I were really lucky, Yuri Oganessian,
the person after whom element 118 was named, Oganesson.
Took us for a private tour round the new Facility which is still being built.
So, at the Center is a huge magnet that is going to be used for the cyclotron (the accelerator)
Ions are accelerated whichever projectile they choose
goes into the space between the poles of the magnet
and is accelerated round and round in the spiral paths from the center to the outside
and by the time we get to the outside it will be traveling at about a tenth of the speed of light.
and at the moment they've just got the magnet in place.
It weighs 1100 tons
and at the moment
they are measuring the magnetic field to make sure that the magnet is performing perfectly
before they put the actual accelerator inside.
The accelerator should be up and running by the end of this year 2017.
so once the ions come out of the accelerator at this huge speed they go into the separator
Which is rather like the switching system at a railway Junction
which can send a beam down one of five different beam lines to five different experiments
and that in itself is quite a huge piece of equipment
but most exciting, of all Brady and I were taken into the room
Where the targets going to be.
We were the first visitors in this huge empty room
And it was really quite moving to think this is where element 119 and 120 may be born.
I was particularly fascinated they've already drilled the holes in the walls
Where the beam is going to come through.
So you can look through this hole and see the atoms eye view of the accelerator
That what the target will see as the beams are coming towards it.
I think this is fantastic it's completely empty room
But this is the room where the new elements one 119 and 120 are likely to be made.
So five years ago we made a video about preliminary experiments trying to make element 120
from Cytanium and Californium with a titanium projectile and a Californium target
not here in Dubna but in Germany. The results were actually slightly more promising than I realized When I made that video.
This is not the sort of experiment that will necessarily give you new iphone tomorrow
But on the other hand it will give us a lot of scientific understanding.
But the really Important message that I am brave got from this visit.
Is that things are really quite well on track to make elements 119 and 120?
whether it'll be in two years or five years or ten years nobody can tell.
But certainly the science is there and we know where we're going
and It looks really promising
there two brands of calcium carbonate here
Which are worth at least if you wanted to buy it would cost you about half a million dollars
So my hands are getting quite cool