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The International Year of the Periodic Table

2019 is the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements, marking 150 years since Dimitri Mendeleev ordered the elements into a table. Of course, the table and our understanding of chemical periodicity has evolved in the intervening time, and this collection features research from across those 150 years, showcasing important and interesting research papers from the archive, along with commentaries and multimedia from across the Nature family.

This Collection is editorially independent, produced with financial support from a third party. About this content.

Interactive Periodic Table

2019 is the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements, marking 150 years since Dmitri Mendeleev ordered the elements into a table as we know it today. Our Nature Research periodic table features editors’ picks from 150 years of original research published in Nature and the Nature Research journals, commentaries and multimedia for elements 1 through 118.

Milestones |

Features & Further Reading

In 10 years, photoredox catalysis has moved from laboratory curiosity to industrial mainstay. The inside story of how this happened and what’s to come.

Advertisement Feature |

150 years after Mendeleev organized the elements by their characteristics, a special issue explores the enduring influence of this scientific masterpiece.

News Feature | | Nature

The periodic table as we know it now seems complete, its current 118 elements nicely fitting in the seven familiar rows. How many more can be synthesized — and how will the table expand to accommodate them? The search for ever-heavier elements is pointing towards new periods, though perhaps not as neatly ordered as the first seven.

Comment | | Nature Chemistry

The addition of nihonium, moscovium, tennessine and oganesson to the periodic table are a reminder of the achievements in nuclear physics and chemistry. Witold Nazarewicz outlines the future challenges for the field.

Perspective | | Nature Physics

Dmitri Mendeleev's periodic table permitted him to systematize crucial chemical data. But its real triumph was as an exercise in theoretical modelling, allowing the prediction of the discovery of previously unknown elements.

Science and Image | | Nature

After more than a century, what can there be to say about the Periodic Table that is new? Merely to ask a question of such disarming simplicity, of course, signals that somebody, indeed, has something new to say.

Commentary | | Nature

There are many different versions of the periodic table, but one among them reigns supreme. Michelle Francl ponders on why chemists put elements in boxes.

Thesis | | Nature Chemistry

When elements 117 and 118 are finally named, should these new members of the halogen and noble gas families receive names ending in -ium as IUPAC has suggested? Brett F. Thornton and Shawn C. Burdette look at the history of element suffixes and make the case for not following this recommendation.

Thesis | | Nature Chemistry

A century ago this month, Frederick Soddy described and named isotopes in the pages of Nature. Brett F. Thornton and Shawn C. Burdette discuss how chemists have viewed and used isotopes since then — either as chemically identical or chemically distinct species as the need required and technology allowed.

Thesis | | Nature Chemistry

Scientists and non-scientists alike have long been dreaming of elements with mighty properties. Perhaps the fictional materials they have conjured up are not as far from reality as it may at first seem.

Comment | | Nature Chemistry

At its inception, the periodic table sorted elements by weight, so it may be surprising that the heaviest natural element on Earth remains controversial, or at best, nebulous. In the strange, perhaps-unfinished search for this weightiest nucleus, the only definitive conclusion is that it lies somewhere beyond uranium.

Comment | | Nature Chemistry

Of all the things humans can bestow names upon, new chemical elements are about the rarest. Our group of periodic table experts attempts to read the tea leaves and predict the names for elements 113, 115, 117 and 118.

Commentary | | Nature Chemistry

In Your Element

Wojciech Grochala describes how the oldest, lightest and most abundant element in the universe continues to play an essential role on today's Earth.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Scientists take nomenclature seriously, but tritium was named in a casual aside. Brett F. Thornton and Shawn C. Burdette discuss the heavy, radioactive hydrogen isotope that is available for purchase online.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Owing to peculiar properties, helium has taken both the main and supporting roles in scientific discoveries over the years. Christine Herman explores just what makes it such a cool element.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Jean-Marie Tarascon ponders on the value of lithium, an element known for about 200 years, whose importance is now fast increasing in view of the promises it holds for energy storage and electric cars.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Although it is mainly known for its toxicity, beryllium possesses an array of properties that makes it attractive for a variety of non-industrial purposes. Ralph Puchta discusses why it is not always best avoided.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Long ago, a global search for borane superfuels led fortuitously to the discovery of carboranes. Ken Wade recalls his own undistinguished part in the space race, and notes how carboranes revitalized boron hydride chemistry and modified our ideas of chemical bonding.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Simon H. Friedman explores the various ways in which carbon is inherently tied to our lives — beyond its elegant, treasured role in organic chemistry.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Although first known among chemists for its noxious or lifeless character, nitrogen was later revealed to be involved in many life, and death, processes. Michael Tarselli ponders on this unforeseen characteristic.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Oxygen has contributed to our understanding of the evolution of life on Earth by providing invaluable clues to geological processes — yet it still holds the key to some unsolved mysteries, as Mark H. Thiemens explains.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Herbert Roesky relates how the small, highly electronegative fluorine atom unveiled the chemical reactivity of noble gases and found many practical applications. but it can also render organic compounds highly toxic or pollutants.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Felice Grandinetti ponders on the peculiarity of neon among the noble gases — and whether it should occupy the top-right position in the periodic table.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Sodium, ubiquitous on Earth in living organisms, oceans and minerals — all the way to table salt — may seem like one of the more ordinary elements. Margit S. Müller highlights why we, like the fairytale king, should not take it for granted.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Magnesium is commonly found in rocks and sea water as well as living organisms. Paul Knochel relates how this element has also sparked a great deal of interest among chemists.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Daniel Rabinovich outlines the history, properties and uses of aluminium — one of the most versatile, pervasive and inexpensive metals today, yet it was considered a rare and costly element only 150 years ago.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Mietek Jaroniec reflects on how silicon, whether bonded with other elements in a variety of materials, in high purity for electronic devices, or in its newer 'black silicon' form, continues to be invaluable in many aspects of our lives.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Jonathan R. Nitschke considers how the story of phosphorus, an element that glows without fire, nicely illustrates the pursuit of scientific knowledge — including how such knowledge goes on to serve many purposes, for better or for worse.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Thomas Rauchfuss marvels at the diversity of sulfur reactivity. Although it poisons most industrial catalysts, it adopts many forms in nature and takes on a variety of biological roles — including that of a biocatalyst.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Barbara Finlayson-Pitts muses on how chlorine has come to play a role in many aspects of our lives — for better or for worse.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Markku Räsänen remembers making a neutral compound featuring argon, and ponders on the reactivity of this inert element.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Calcium is found throughout the solar system, the Earth's crust and oceans, and is an essential constituent of cells, shells and bones — yet it is curiously scarce in the upper atmosphere. John Plane ponders on this 25-year-old mystery.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

From Earth to the stars and back again, John Emsley surveys the uses, occurrences and mysteries of an element that is playing an increasing role in human affairs.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

From toothpaste to Tebbe reagents, Michael Tarselli takes a look at the many different faces of titanium.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Andrea Taroni shares his experience with vanadium — a colourful element with a rich chemistry (and physics!) that is emblematic of all transition metals.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

From rubies to Rolls-Royce, Anders Lennartson explores the colourful history of chromium and its coordination compounds.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Iron has important roles in areas as diverse as physiological processes and industrial activities, but has traditionally been eclipsed by other transition metals in synthesis processes. Carsten Bolm looks at how iron is now also becoming an increasingly sought-after catalyst.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

David Lindsay and William Kerr remind us that where cobalt is concerned, good has triumphed over evil.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Although reports on the use of nickel can be traced back to 3,500 BC, Catherine Drennan points to a resurgence of interest in nickel-based chemistry in the energy and environmental areas.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Copper, routinely encountered in daily life, may at first glance seem a little unexciting. Tiberiu G. Moga relates how science, however, has not overlooked its promise.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Elements that are widespread in nature and have been used for thousands of years are not typically deemed exciting, but Anders Lennartson argues that we shouldn't take zinc for granted.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Trick cutlery and mobile phones have one peculiar element in common, as Marshall Brennan explains.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Shawn C. Burdette and Brett F. Thornton explore how germanium developed from a missing element in Mendeleev's periodic table to an enabler for the information age, while retaining a nomenclature oddity.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

If ever there was an element that epitomizes the notion that chemicals might be good or bad depending on their use, arsenic must be it. Katherine Haxton explains why.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Russell Boyd ponders on how selenium — despite close similarities with its neighbours of the chalcogen family, sulfur and tellurium — continues to reveal chemical and biological activities of its own.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Many chemical elements behave quite differently depending on the compound they are found in, but Matt Rattley argues that bromine does so in a particularly striking manner.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Matic Lozinšek and Gary J. Schrobilgen consider krypton — namesake of Superman's home planet — its superoxidant compounds, and their roles in coaxing elements into their highest oxidation states.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

From sugar beets to TV screens, François-Xavier Coudert explores the history, applications and perils of the Scottish element, strontium

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Peter Dinér describes the journey of yttrium from its discovery in a remote mine to high-temperature superconductors and light-emitting diodes.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Michael Tarselli reflects on the intriguing characteristics of a rather underrated element, niobium, in its 'missing' and existing forms.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Anders Lennartson muses on molybdenum and its essential role in catalysing reactions from the bacterial to the industrial scale.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

The story of the last element to be discovered out of the first 92 catalogued in the periodic table is told by Eric Scerri, who reminds us that technetium can be found a little closer to home than many of us might think.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

From humble beginnings in Siberia, ruthenium has blossomed into an incredibly interesting and useful element. Simon Higgins looks at its role in past — and perhaps future — Nobel Prize-winning discoveries.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Lars Öhrström relates the various roles played by rhodium in our daily lives, ranging from car components to drugs.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

You would be forgiven if you thought the most important element in an organic transformation was carbon. Matthew Hartings argues that, for just over half a century in many of chemistry's most renowned organic reactions, it has actually been palladium.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Katharina M. Fromm explains how, as well as catalysis and jewellery, silver serves a myriad of medicinal applications — some of which are even behind poetic traditions such as throwing coins in wishing wells.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Nadezda V. Tarakina and Bart Verberck explore the colourful history and assets of element 48.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Catherine Renouf describes how indium went from being a rather inconspicuous element to one whose role as a component of high-technology devices and gadgets may deplete its worldwide resources.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Tin has been ubiquitous throughout the course of human history, from Bronze Age tools to lithium-ion battery components, yet Michael A. Tarselli warns it should not be deemed pedestrian. Its tendency to linger in human tissues presents a dangerous side that steers researchers towards greener chemistries.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Claire Hansell surveys the uses, past and present, for antimony, including an unusual method for 'recycling' it.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Jim Ibers takes a look at the intriguing structures and bonding found in tellurium and its compounds, and considers their uses in a diversity of fields ranging from metallurgy to electronics.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Pierangelo Metrangolo and Giuseppe Resnati celebrate the bicentenary of the discovery of iodine — a good time to also bring to its conclusion an international project that aims to define and categorize halogen bonding.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Like all noble gases, xenon is colourless, odourless and inflammable — but it is also more reactive, and much rarer, than its lighter relatives. Ivan Dmochowski ponders how xenon, though initially slow to earn a spot in the periodic table, is now at the forefront of advances in science and technology.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Eric Ansoborlo and Richard Wayne Leggett discuss the chemical and radiological characteristics that make caesium a captivating element but also a troublesome contaminant.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Katharina M. Fromm relates how barium and its ores went from a magical, glowing species that attracted witches and alchemists to components in a variety of compounds that are key parts of modern life.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Lanthanum is the first lanthanide — or the last. Or it’s not a lanthanide at all. In any case, Brett Thornton and Shawn Burdette are sure that it’s an element that might or might not be in group three of the periodic table.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Eric J. Schelter ponders on cerium's rather puzzling redox reactivity, and the varied practical applications that have emerged from it.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Adrian Dingle relates how one ‘element’ that fell off the periodic table was eventually replaced by two.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

From grand challenges of nineteenth century chemistry to powerful technology in small packages, Brett F. Thornton and Shawn C. Burdette explain why neodymium is the twin element discovered twice by two Carls.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Stuart Cantrill explains why looking to the heavens for element 61 — named after the Titan who stole fire from the gods — could extend the periodic table.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Stanislav Strekopytov relates the history of rare-earth element samarium, from its geological origins to its geochronological uses.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Jean-Claude Bünzli sheds light on why europium — an element that is neither abundant in the Earth's crust nor involved in biological processes — has nevertheless attracted a great deal of interest from chemists.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Geng Deng relates how terbium, a garden-variety lanthanide, has found its way into our daily lives owing to its green phosphorescence.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Beginning with its origins as the archetypal and eponymously elusive rare-earth element, Dante Gatteschi explains why dysprosium and other lanthanides have cornered the market in molecular magnetism.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Brett F. Thornton and Shawn C. Burdette consider holmium's hotly contested discovery and later obscurity.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Claude Piguet reflects on the history of erbium, which is very much intertwined with its rare earth cousins yttrium, ytterbium and terbium.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Alasdair Skelton and Brett F. Thornton examine the twisting path through the several discoveries of ytterbium, from the eighteenth century to the present.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Lars Öhrström suspects that as time goes by, we may see more of lutetium — the last of the lanthanoids.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Shawn C. Burdette and Brett F. Thornton examine hafnium’s emergence from ores containing a seemingly identical element to become both a chemical oddity and an essential material for producing nuclear energy.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Giovanni Baccolo relates tales of tantalum, an element known, and named, for its inertness, yet one that holds some surprises, such as a naturally occurring nuclear isomer.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Pilar Goya, Nazario Martín and Pascual Román relate how element 74 can be found in lamp filaments or weapon parts and also in literature, and continues to serve many purposes — no matter which of its two names it is given.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Rhenium and technetium not only share the same group in the periodic table, but also have some common history relating to how they were — or indeed weren't — discovered. Eric Scerri explains.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Gregory Girolami recounts how element 76 beat a close competitor to the title of densest known metal and went on to participate in Nobel Prize-winning reactions.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

As a rare and precious metal that is also resistant to wear and tarnish, platinum is known to be particularly well-suited to jewellery. Vivian Yam reflects on how, beyond its prestigious image, platinum has also found its way into a variety of fields ranging from the petrochemical to the pharmaceutical industry.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Catalysis using gold has fast become a major research field with great potential, and many new discoveries are being made. Graham Hutchings reflects on how this has come about.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Joel D. Blum considers the two faces of mercury. It has many unique and useful properties in chemistry — yet it comes with a dark and dangerous side.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Anders Lennartson ponders on the contribution of thallium to society, since its main characteristic is its toxicity.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Somobrata Acharya explores the history, properties and uses of lead — an ancient metal that is still very relevant to today's technologies, but should be used with caution.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Ram Mohan looks at how bismuth — a remarkably harmless element among the toxic heavy metals in the periodic table — has sparked interest in areas varying from medicinal to industrial chemistry.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Eric Ansoborlo considers the disproportionate potency of polonium compared with its relative scarcity on Earth.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

D. Scott Wilbur points out the difficulty in studying the transient element astatine, and the need to understand its basic chemical nature to help in the development of targeted radiotherapy agents.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Brett F. Thornton and Shawn C. Burdette look back at the discovery — and the many different names — of element 86.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Eric Scerri recounts the story of element 87, which after a number of false starts was finally tracked down in France — and named in its honour.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Naturally scarce but synthetically accessible, Gauthier J.-P. Deblonde and Rebecca J. Abergel discuss element 89 and its emergence as a candidate radio-theranostic metal for cancer treatment.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

John Arnold, Thomas L. Gianetti and Yannai Kashtan look back on thorium's chemistry, and look forward to harnessing its nuclear potential.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Richard Wilson relates how the rare, highly radioactive, highly toxic element protactinium puzzled chemists for a long time, and was discovered and named twice from two different isotopes before finding its place in fundamental research.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Uranium is best known, and feared, for its involvement in nuclear energy. Marisa J. Monreal and Paula L. Diaconescu take a look at how its unique combination of properties is now increasingly attracting the attention of chemists.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Jim Ibers talks about neptunium, an element that has remained largely unnoticed despite the flurry of activity devoted to its neighbours in the periodic table, uranium and plutonium.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

For historical reasons, plutonium brings to mind nuclear weapons. Jan Hartmann brings another side of element 94 to attention, which features an upcoming trip to its eponymous celestial body.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Made under a cloak of wartime secrecy, yet announced in the most public of ways — a radioactive element that governments insist we take into our homes. Ben Still explains how element 95 is one of real contradiction.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

From secretive beginnings to serving in missions on Mars, Rebecca J. Abergel and Eric Ansoborlo take a look at the glowing mark curium has left on contemporary science and technology.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

The first new element produced after the Second World War has led a rather peaceful life since entering the period table — until it became the target of those producing superheavy elements, as Andreas Trabesinger describes.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Thomas Albrecht-Schmitt explains the origin of element 98's striking green glow, and why the future for californium chemistry is just as bright.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Discovered during secret testing by the United States, Joanne Redfern tells us about element 99 and why its namesake cautioned against the very technology that led to its creation.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Brett F. Thornton and Shawn C. Burdette relate how element 100 was first identified in a nuclear weapons test, but that was classified information, so researchers had to 'discover' it again using other methods.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

The first element to be identified one atom at a time was named after the main architect of the modern periodic table. This seemingly straightforward etymological choice illustrates how scientific recognition can eclipse geopolitical tensions, says Anne Pichon.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Alfred Nobel's eponymous element, nobelium, was 'first' discovered either in the 1950s or 1960s, in the USSR, Sweden or the USA. Brett F. Thornton and Shawn C. Burdette delve into the ensuing decades of internecine strife over the discovery of element 102.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Mitch André Garcia considers the disputed discovery of element 104 and takes a look at how the chemistry of this synthetic element is developing.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Bohrium behaves just as a group 7 element should — but this is in fact surprising, Philip Wilk explains.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

From its scarcity to political intrigue over naming conventions, element 108’s story describes how international cooperation overcame the limits of nuclear science, says Michael Tarselli.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Adrian Dingle tells the story of how the name of element 109 represents the lasting recognition that one of the greatest nuclear physicists was in danger of never receiving.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Taye Demissie relates unununium’s unusually smooth route to roentgenium, and how predicting its properties relies on relativistic calculations.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

In the search for superheavy elements, element 112 was a stepping stone towards the 'islands of stability'. Sigurd Hofmann now relates the steps that led to its 'creation' and detection.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

The chemistry of element 114 seems to be in reach, yet Peter Schwerdtfeger cautions that we should expect the unexpected from this young element, which is so different to its lighter counterparts.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Liz Williams explores the synthesis of tennessine, a story in which elements in supporting roles play a crucial part.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry

Kit Chapman explores the voyage to the discovery of element 118, the pioneer chemist it is named after, and false claims made along the way.

In Your Element | | Nature Chemistry