Three new isotopes discovered at Michigan's NSCL

Posted by Rick C. Hodgin

Lansing (MI) - Using a high-power atom-smasher at Michigan State University’s National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL), three new isotopes have been found.  They are silicon-44, aluminum-42 and magnesium-40, and each of them lasts only a fraction of a second before decaying into other isotopes.

After five continuous days of bombarding atoms in an attempt to find these new isotopes, the team had pretty much resigned themselves to the reality that they do not exist.  However, on the sixth day the isotopes were discovered.  The aluminum isotope, for example, was shown to have a lifespan of much longer than was previously thought, which leads researchers to believe there may also be new isotopes which were previously thought impossible which may have shorter lifespans.

The scientists said that only three separate instances of magnesium-40 were found in 11 days of continuous bombardment.  They saw more than 20 instances of aluminum-42, with one blip-instance of aluminum-43.  No word on how many silicon-44 isotope instances were observed.  The team indicated that to find even more rare particles would require a much more powerful beam than their current collider.  It seems that once again funding is holding science back.

Read more ... NSCL.