In Your Element

  • In Your Element |

    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.

    • Stuart Cantrill
  • In Your Element |

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

    • Elizabeth Williams
  • In Your Element |

    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.

    • Shawn C. Burdette
    •  & Brett F. Thornton
  • In Your Element |

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

    • Taye B. Demissie
  • In Your Element |

    Vikki Cantrill tells the story of element 88’s discovery and how its glowing reputation eventually faded.

    • Vikki Cantrill
  • In Your Element |

    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.

    • Kit Chapman
  • In Your Element |

    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.

    • Brett F. Thornton
    •  & Shawn C. Burdette
  • In Your Element |

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

    • Adrian Dingle
  • In Your Element |

    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.

    • Michael A. Tarselli
  • In Your Element |

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

    • Lars Öhrström
  • In Your Element |

    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.

    • Shawn C. Burdette
    •  & Brett F. Thornton
  • In Your Element |

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

    • Geng Deng
  • In Your Element |

    Named after a mysterious place, thulium — one of the rarest rare earths — has some exotic chemistry in store for us, says Polly Arnold.

    • Polly Arnold
  • In Your Element |

    Iulia Georgescu explains her fascination with the elusive element 113.

    • Iulia Georgescu
  • In Your Element |

    Dieter Ackermann explains why element 110 occupies a significant place in the superheavy corner of the periodic table.

    • Dieter Ackermann
  • In Your Element |

    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.

    • Andreas Trabesinger
  • In Your Element |

    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.

    • Adrian Dingle
  • In Your Element |

    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.

    • Brett F. Thornton
    •  & Shawn C. Burdette
  • In Your Element |

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

    • Andrea Taroni
  • In Your Element |

    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.

    • Michael A. Tarselli
  • In Your Element |

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

    • Alasdair Skelton
    •  & Brett F. Thornton
  • In Your Element |

    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.

    • Ben Still
  • In Your Element |

    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.

    • Brett F. Thornton
    •  & Shawn C. Burdette
  • In Your Element |

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

    • Nadezda V. Tarakina
    •  & Bart Verberck
  • In Your Element |

    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.

    • Joanne Redfern
  • In Your Element |

    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.

    • Gauthier J.-P. Deblonde
    •  & Rebecca J. Abergel
  • In Your Element |

    Lars Öhrström tells of the fleeting, but still tangible, chemistry of dubnium, the heaviest of the group 5 elements.

    • Lars Öhrström
  • In Your Element |

    Alpha decay into flerovium? It must be Lv, says Kat Day, as she tells us how little we know about element 116.

    • Kat Day
  • In Your Element |

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

    • Stanislav Strekopytov
  • In Your Element |

    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.

    • Matic Lozinšek
    •  & Gary J. Schrobilgen
  • In Your Element |

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

    • Philip Wilk
  • In Your Element |

    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.

    • Rebecca J. Abergel
    •  & Eric Ansoborlo
  • In Your Element |

    David Payne relates iridium's role in two very different ages.

    • David Payne
  • In Your Element |

    Yuichiro Nagame ponders on the steps it took to make lawrencium, and its location in the periodic table.

    • Yuichiro Nagame
  • In Your Element |

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

    • Peter Dinér
  • In Your Element |

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

    • Lars Öhrström
  • In Your Element |

    Iulia Georgescu explains why rubidium is atomic physicists' favourite chemical element.

    • Iulia Georgescu
  • In Your Element |

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

    • François-Xavier Coudert
  • In Your Element |

    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.

    • Giovanni Baccolo
  • In Your Element |

    Christoph E. Düllmann reflects on the excitement, and implications, of probing the reactivity of heavy element seaborgium.

    • Christoph E. Düllmann
  • In Your Element |

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

    • Anders Lennartson
  • In Your Element |

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

    • Brett F. Thornton
    •  & Shawn C. Burdette
  • In Your Element |

    Lars Öhrström ponders the importance of potassium in matters of life and death.

    • Lars Öhrström
  • In Your Element |

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

    • Eric Ansoborlo
    •  & Richard Wayne Leggett
  • 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.

    • Wojciech Grochala
  • In Your Element |

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

    • Michael A. Tarselli
  • In Your Element |

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

    • Claire Hansell
  • In Your Element |

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

    • Marshall Brennan
  • In Your Element |

    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.

    • John Emsley