The Not-So-New Chemical Element 112

Recent headlines tout that "a new element" will soon be added to the 140-year-old periodic table of chemical elements.1  However, the super heavy element known as ununbium (Uub) or element 112 (CAS Registry Number® 54084-26-3) is far from new.  It was hypothesized to exist since the 1970s, most notably by Kenneth S. Pitzer in 1975.2  Experimental synthesis of element 112 was first reported in 1996 and confirmed in 2002 by a research group led by Sigurd Hofmann.3,4  As such, element 112 has been among the elements found on standard periodic tables for several years and included in CAS REGISTRYSM since 1975.

If element 112 has been around for so long, then why the recent attention?  The only thing "new" to report is that its discovery now satisfies a set of recognition criteria established by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) / International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP).  On two occasions, IUPAC/IUPAP concluded that existing data on element 112 did not satisfy their criteria and that "confirmation by further results" was necessary.5,6  In 2007, an independent discovery of element 112 was published in the Journal of the Physical Society of Japan:

  • "This is the first result that confirms the production of element 112 in a different laboratory by using a device with a different operational principle."7

Based on this article and others, IUPAC/IUPAP decided in 2009 to recognize the discovery of element 112 by the research group of Sigurd Hofmann.8  The final hurdle for element 112 - one that will have the greatest impact on periodic tables everywhere - is the approval of a new name and symbol.  Sigurd Hofmann and co-discoverers will submit a proposal to IUPAC within the next several weeks, and following a review process, the new name and symbol will be published in Pure and Applied Chemistry.

Contributed by
Peter S. Carlton, Ph.D.
CAS Communications

Additional Resources

You can use SciFinder® or STN® to search the CAS databases for additional information about the discovery of element 112. If your organization is enabled to use the web version of SciFinder, you can click the SciFinder links in this article to directly access details of the substances and references.

For more information on element 112, visit Common Chemistry, a free web resource that contains CAS Registry Numbers for approximately 7800 chemicals of widespread general public interest.


  1. Comenetz, J. New, Superheavy Element to Enter Periodic Table. Reuters [Online], June 11, 2009, (accessed June 16, 2009).
  2. Pitzer, K.S. Are Elements 112, 114, and 118 relatively inert gases? J. Chem. Phys. 1975, 63, 1032-1033.
  3. Hofmann, S.; Ninov, V.; Hessberger, F.P.; Armbruster, P.; Folger, H.; Munzenberg, G.; Schott, H.J.; Popeko, A.G.; Yeremin, A.V.; Saro, S.; Janik, R.; Leino, M. The New Element 112. Z. Phys. A 1996, 354, 229-230.
  4. Hofmann, S.; Hessberger, F.P.; Ackermann, D.; Munzenberg, G.; Antalic, S.; Cagarda, P.; Kindler, B.; Kojouharova, J.; Leino, M.; Lommel, B.; Mann, R.; Popeko, A.G.; Reshitko, S.; Saro, S.; Uusitalo, J.; Yeremin, A.V. New Results on Elements 111 and 112. Eur. Phys. J. A 2002, 14, 147-157.
  5. Karol, P.J.; Nakahara, H.; Petley, B.W.; Vogt, E. On the Discovery of the Elements 110-112. Pure Appl. Chem. 2001, 73, 959-967.
  6. Karol, P.J.; Nakahara, H.; Petley, B.W.; Vogt, E. On the Claims for Discovery of Elements 110, 111, 112, 114, 116, and 118. Pure Appl. Chem. 2003, 75, 1601-1611.
  7. Morita, K.; Morimoto, K.; Kaji, D.; Akiyama, T.; Goto, S.-I.; Haba, H.; Ideguchi, E.; Katori, K.; Koura, H.; Kudo, H.; Ohnishi, T.; Ozawa, A.; Suda, T.; Sueki, K.; Tokanai, F.; Yamaguchi, T.; Yoneda, A.; Yoshida, A. Experiment on Synthesis of an Isotope 277112 by 208Pb + 70Zn Reaction. J. Phys. Soc. Jpn. 2007, 76, 043201/1-043201/5.
  8. Barber, R.C.; Gaggeler, H.W.; Karol, P.J.; Nakahara, H.; Vardaci, E.; Vogt, E. Discovery of the Element with Atomic Number 112. Pure Appl. Chem. 2009, 81, 1331-1343.

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