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En tidslinje över upptäckterna av kemiska grundämnen

Upptäckten av de 118 kemiska grundämnen som är kända för att existera från och med 2022 presenteras i kronologisk ordning. Elementen listas generellt i den ordning i vilken var och en först definierades som det rena elementet, eftersom det exakta datumet för upptäckten av de flesta element inte kan fastställas exakt.
  • 9000 f.Kr.

    Copper [Cu]

    Copper was probably the first metal mined and crafted by humans. It was originally obtained as a native metal and later from the smelting of ores. Earliest estimates of the discovery of copper suggest around 9000 BC in the Middle East. It was one of the most important materials to humans throughout the Chalcolithic and Bronze Ages. Copper beads dating from 6000 BC have been found in Çatal Höyük, Anatolia and the archaeological site of Belovode on the Rudnik mountain in Serbia contains the world's oldest securely dated evidence of copper smelting from 5000 BC.

  • 7000 f.Kr.

    Lead [Pb]

    Metallic lead beads dating back to 7000–6500 BCE have been found in Asia Minor and may represent the first example of metal smelting. At that time lead had few (if any) applications due to its softness and dull appearance. The Ancient Egyptians were the first to use lead minerals in cosmetics, an application that spread to Ancient Greece and beyond. The oldest known artifact of lead is a statuette found at the temple of Osiris on the site of Abydos dated around 3800 BC.

  • 6000 f.Kr.

    Gold [Au]

    The earliest recorded metal employed by humans appears to be gold, which can be found free or "native". Small amounts of natural gold have been found in Spanish caves used during the late Paleolithic period, c. 40,000 BC. Gold artifacts probably made their first appearance in Ancient Egypt at the very beginning of the pre-dynastic period, at the end of the fifth millennium BC and the start of the fourth, and smelting was developed during the course of the 4th millennium; gold artifacts appear in the archeology of Lower Mesopotamia during the early 4th millennium. The earliest gold artifacts were discovered at the site of Wadi Qana in the Levant.

  • 5000 f.Kr.

    Iron [Fe]

    There is evidence that iron was known from before 5000 BC. The oldest known iron objects used by humans are some beads of meteoric iron, made in Egypt in about 4000 BC. The discovery of smelting around 3000 BC led to the start of the Iron Age around 1200 BC and the prominent use of iron for tools and weapons. However, iron artefacts of great age are much rarer than objects made of gold or silver due to the ease with which iron corrodes. The technology developed slowly, and even after the discovery of smelting it took many centuries for iron to replace bronze as the metal of choice for tools and weapons.

    Silver [Ag]

    Silver was one of the seven metals of antiquity that were known to prehistoric humans and whose discovery is thus lost to history. But probably silver was discovered in Asia Minor shortly after copper and gold. In particular, the three metals of group 11, copper, silver, and gold, occur in the elemental form in nature and were probably used as the first primitive forms of money as opposed to simple bartering. However, unlike copper, silver did not lead to the growth of metallurgy on account of its low structural strength, and was more often used ornamentally or as money.

  • 3750 f.Kr.

    Carbon [C]

    Carbon was discovered in prehistory and was known in the forms of soot and charcoal to the earliest human civilizations. The earliest known use of charcoal was for the reduction of copper, zinc, and tin ores in the manufacture of bronze, by the Egyptians and Sumerians. Diamonds were known probably as early as 2500 BC in China, while carbon in the form of charcoal was made around Roman times by the same chemistry as it is today, by heating wood in a pyramid covered with clay to exclude air. True chemical analyses were made in the 18th century, and in 1789 carbon was listed by Antoine Lavoisier as an element.

  • 3500 f.Kr.

    Tin [Sn]

    Tin extraction and use can be dated to the beginnings of the Bronze Age around 3000 BC, when it was observed that copper objects formed of polymetallic ores with different metal contents had different physical properties. The earliest bronze objects had a tin or arsenic content of less than 2% and are believed to be the result of unintentional alloying due to trace metal content in the copper ore. The oldest artifacts date from around 2000 BC.

  • 2000 f.Kr.

    Sulfur [S]

    First used at least 4,000 years ago. According to the Ebers Papyrus, a sulfur ointment was used in ancient Egypt to treat granular eyelids. Designated as one of the two elements of which all metals are composed in the sulfur-mercury theory of metals, first described in pseudo-Apollonius of Tyana's Sirr al-khaliqa ('Secret of Creation') and in the works attributed to Jabir ibn Hayyan (both 8th or 9th century). Designated as a univeral element (one of the tria prima) by Paracelsus in the early 16th century. Recognized as an element by Antoine Lavoisier in 1777.

  • 1500 f.Kr.

    Mercury [Hg]

    Mercury was found in Egyptian tombs that date from 1500 BC. In China and Tibet, mercury use was thought to prolong life, heal fractures, and maintain generally good health, although it is now known that exposure to mercury vapor leads to serious adverse health effects. Alchemists thought of mercury as the First Matter from which all metals were formed. They believed that different metals could be produced by varying the quality and quantity of sulfur contained within the mercury. The purest of these was gold, and mercury was called for in attempts at the transmutation of base (or impure) metals into gold, which was the goal of many alchemists.

  • 1000 f.Kr.

    Zinc [Zn]

    Used as a component of brass since antiquity (before 1000 BC) by Indian metallurgists, but its true nature was not understood in ancient times. Identified as a distinct metal in the Rasaratna Samuccaya around the 14th century of the Christian era and by the alchemist Paracelsus in 1526. German chemist Andreas Marggraf normally gets credit for discovering pure metallic zinc 1746, even though Swedish chemist Anton von Swab had distilled zinc from calamine four years previously.

  • 815

    Arsenic [As]

    During the Bronze Age, arsenic was often included in bronze, which made the alloy harder (so-called "arsenical bronze"). The isolation of arsenic was described by Muslim alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan before 815 AD. Albertus Magnus (Albert the Great, 1193–1280) later isolated the element from a compound in 1250, by heating soap together with arsenic trisulfide. In 1649, Johann Schröder published two ways of preparing arsenic. Crystals of elemental (native) arsenic are found in nature, although rare.

    Antimony [Sb]

    Dioscorides and Pliny both describe the accidental production of metallic antimony from stibnite, but only seem to recognize the metal as lead. The intentional isolation of antimony is described in the works attributed to the Muslim alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan (c. 850–950). In Europe, the metal was being produced and used by 1540, when it was described by Vannoccio Biringuccio. The first discovery of naturally occurring pure antimony in the Earth's crust was described by the Swedish scientist and local mine district engineer Anton von Swab in 1783; the type-sample was collected from the Sala Silver Mine in the Bergslagen mining district of Sala, Västmanland, Sweden.

  • 1000

    Bismuth [Bi]

    Bismuth was known since ancient times, but often confused with tin and lead, which are chemically similar. The Incas used bismuth (along with the usual copper and tin) in a special bronze alloy for knives. Agricola (1546) states that bismuth is a distinct metal in a family of metals including tin and lead. This was based on observation of the metals and their physical properties. Miners in the age of alchemy also gave bismuth the name tectum argenti, or "silver being made" in the sense of silver still in the process of being formed within the Earth. Beginning with Johann Heinrich Pott in 1738, Carl Wilhelm Scheele, and Torbern Olof Bergman, the distinctness of lead and bismuth became clear, and Claude François Geoffroy demonstrated in 1753 that this metal is distinct from lead and tin.

  • 1669

    Phosphorus [P]

    The discovery of phosphorus, the first element to be discovered that was not known since ancient times, is credited to the German alchemist Hennig Brand in 1669, although others might have discovered phosphorus around the same time. Brand experimented with urine, which contains considerable quantities of dissolved phosphates from normal metabolism. Working in Hamburg, Brand attempted to create the fabled philosopher's stone through the distillation of some salts by evaporating urine, and in the process produced a white material that glowed in the dark and burned brilliantly. It was named phosphorus mirabilis ("miraculous bearer of light"). Phosphorus was the 13th element to be discovered. Because of its tendency to spontaneously combust when left alone in air, it is sometimes referred to as "the Devil's element".

  • 1735

    Cobalt [Co]

    Cobalt has been used to color glass since the Bronze Age. The word cobalt is derived from the German kobalt, from kobold meaning "goblin", a superstitious term used for the ore of cobalt by miners. The first attempts to smelt those ores for copper or silver failed, yielding simply powder (cobalt(II) oxide) instead. Because the primary ores of cobalt always contain arsenic, smelting the ore oxidized the arsenic into the highly toxic and volatile arsenic oxide, adding to the notoriety of the ore. Swedish chemist Georg Brandt (1694–1768) is credited with discovering cobalt circa 1735, showing it to be a previously unknown element, distinct from bismuth and other traditional metals. Brandt called it a new "semi-metal". He showed that compounds of cobalt metal were the source of the blue color in glass, which previously had been attributed to the bismuth found with cobalt. Cobalt became the first metal to be discovered since the pre-historical period. All other known metals (iron, copper, silver, gold, zinc, mercury, tin, lead and bismuth) had no recorded discoverers.

    Platinum [Pt]

    Archaeologists have discovered traces of platinum in the gold used in ancient Egyptian burials as early as 1200 BCE. The first European reference to platinum appears in 1557 in the writings of the Italian humanist Julius Caesar Scaliger as a description of an unknown noble metal found between Darién and Mexico, "which no fire nor any Spanish artifice has yet been able to liquefy". In 1735, Antonio de Ulloa and Jorge Juan y Santacilia saw Native Americans mining platinum while the Spaniards were travelling through Colombia and Peru for eight years. Ulloa and Juan found mines with the whitish metal nuggets and took them home to Spain. Antonio de Ulloa returned to Spain and established the first mineralogy lab in Spain and was the first to systematically study platinum, which was in 1748. His historical account of the expedition included a description of platinum as being neither separable nor calcinable. Ulloa also anticipated the discovery of platinum mines. After publishing the report in 1748, Ulloa did not continue to investigate the new metal. In 1752, Henrik Scheffer published a detailed scientific description of the metal, which he referred to as "white gold", including an account of how he succeeded in fusing platinum ore with the aid of arsenic. Scheffer described platinum as being less pliable than gold, but with similar resistance to corrosion.

  • 1751

    Nickel [Ni]

    Use of nickel (as natural meteoric nickel–iron alloy) has been traced as far back as 3500 BCE. In medieval Germany, a metallic yellow mineral was found in the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) that resembled copper ore. But when miners were unable to get any copper from it, they blamed a mischievous sprite of German mythology, Nickel (similar to Old Nick), for besetting the copper. They called this ore Kupfernickel from German Kupfer 'copper'. This ore is now known as the mineral nickeline (formerly niccolite), a nickel arsenide. In 1751, Baron Axel Fredrik Cronstedt tried to extract copper from kupfernickel at a cobalt mine in the village of Los, Sweden, and instead produced a white metal that he named nickel after the spirit that had given its name to the mineral. In modern German, Kupfernickel or Kupfer-Nickel designates the alloy cupronickel.

  • 1755

    Magnesium [Mg]

    The name magnesium originates from the Greek word for locations related to the tribe of the Magnetes, either a district in Thessaly called Magnesia or Magnesia ad Sipylum, now in Turkey. The metal was first isolated by Sir Humphry Davy in England in 1808. He used electrolysis on a mixture of magnesia and mercuric oxide. Antoine Bussy prepared it in coherent form in 1831. Davy's first suggestion for a name was magnium, but the name magnesium is now used in English and all major European languages but Russian.

  • 1766

    Hydrogen [H]

    In 1671, Robert Boyle discovered and described the reaction between iron filings and dilute acids, which results in the production of hydrogen gas. In 1766, Henry Cavendish was the first to recognize hydrogen gas as a discrete substance, by naming the gas from a metal-acid reaction "inflammable air". He speculated that "inflammable air" was in fact identical to the hypothetical substance called "phlogiston" and further finding in 1781 that the gas produces water when burned. He is usually given credit for the discovery of hydrogen as an element. In 1783, Antoine Lavoisier gave the element the name hydrogen (from the Greek ὑδρο- hydro meaning "water" and -γενής genes meaning "former") when he and Laplace reproduced Cavendish's finding that water is produced when hydrogen is burned.

  • 1771

    Oxygen [O]

    Oxygen was isolated by Michael Sendivogius before 1604, but it is commonly believed that the element was discovered independently by Carl Wilhelm Scheele, in Uppsala, in 1773 or earlier, and Joseph Priestley in Wiltshire, in 1774. Priority is often given for Priestley because his work was published first. Priestley, however, called oxygen "dephlogisticated air", and did not recognize it as a chemical element. The name oxygen was coined in 1777 by Antoine Lavoisier, who first recognized oxygen as a chemical element and correctly characterized the role it plays in combustion. Lavoisier renamed 'vital air' to oxygène in 1777 from the Greek roots ὀξύς (oxys), because he mistakenly believed that oxygen was a constituent of all acids. Chemists (such as Sir Humphry Davy in 1812) eventually determined that Lavoisier was wrong in this regard, but by then the name was too well established.

  • 1772

    Nitrogen [N]

    Nitrogen was first discovered and isolated by Scottish physician Daniel Rutherford in 1772, he discovered nitrogen while studying at the University of Edinburgh. He showed that the air in which animals had breathed, even after removal of the exhaled carbon dioxide, was no longer able to burn a candle. Although Carl Wilhelm Scheele and Henry Cavendish had independently done so at about the same time, Rutherford is generally accorded the credit because his work was published first. The name nitrogène was suggested by French chemist Jean-Antoine-Claude Chaptal in 1790 when it was found that nitrogen was present in nitric acid and nitrates.

    Barium [Ba]

    Alchemists in the early Middle Ages knew about some barium minerals. Smooth pebble-like stones of mineral baryte were found in volcanic rock near Bologna, Italy, and so were called "Bologna stones". Alchemists were attracted to them because after exposure to light they would glow for years. The phosphorescent properties of baryte heated with organics were described by V. Casciorolus in 1602. Carl Scheele determined that baryte contained a new element in 1774, but could not isolate barium, only barium oxide. Johan Gottlieb Gahn also isolated barium oxide two years later in similar studies. Oxidized barium was at first called "barote" by Guyton de Morveau, a name that was changed by Antoine Lavoisier to baryta. Barium was first isolated by electrolysis of molten barium salts in 1808 by Sir Humphry Davy in England. Davy, by analogy with calcium, named "barium" after baryta, with the "-ium" ending signifying a metallic element.

  • 1774

    Chlorine [Cl]

    Chlorine played an important role in the experiments conducted by medieval alchemists, which commonly involved the heating of chloride salts like ammonium chloride (sal ammoniac) and sodium chloride (common salt), producing various chemical substances containing chlorine such as hydrogen chloride, mercury(II) chloride (corrosive sublimate), and hydrochloric acid (in the form of aqua regia). However, the nature of free chlorine gas as a separate substance was only recognised around 1630 by Jan Baptist van Helmont. Carl Wilhelm Scheele wrote a description of chlorine gas in 1774, supposing it to be an oxide of a new element. In 1809, chemists suggested that the gas might be a pure element, and this was confirmed by Sir Humphry Davy in 1810, who named it after the Ancient Greek χλωρός (khlōrós, "pale green") because of its colour.

    Manganese [Mn]

    Manganese compounds were used by Egyptian and Roman glassmakers, either to add to, or remove, color from glass. Use as "glassmakers soap" continued through the Middle Ages until modern times and is evident in 14th-century glass from Venice. Because it was used in glassmaking, manganese dioxide was available for experiments by alchemists, the first chemists. Ignatius Gottfried Kaim (1770) and Johann Glauber (17th century) discovered that manganese dioxide could be converted to permanganate, a useful laboratory reagent. By the mid-18th century, the Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele used manganese dioxide to produce chlorine. By the mid-18th century, Carl Wilhelm Scheele used pyrolusite to produce chlorine. Scheele and others were aware that pyrolusite (now known to be manganese dioxide) contained a new element. Johan Gottlieb Gahn was the first to isolate an impure sample of manganese metal in 1774, which he did by reducing the dioxide with carbon.

  • 1778

    Molybdenum [Mo]

    Molybdenite—the principal ore from which molybdenum is now extracted—was previously known as molybdena. Molybdena was confused with and often utilized as though it were graphite. Like graphite, molybdenite can be used to blacken a surface or as a solid lubricant. Although (reportedly) molybdenum was deliberately alloyed with steel in one 14th-century Japanese sword (mfd. ca. 1330), that art was never employed widely and was later lost. In the West in 1754, Bengt Andersson Qvist examined a sample of molybdenite and determined that it did not contain lead and thus was not galena. By 1778 Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele stated firmly that molybdena was (indeed) neither galena nor graphite. Instead, Scheele correctly proposed that molybdena was an ore of a distinct new element, named molybdenum for the mineral in which it resided, and from which it might be isolated. Peter Jacob Hjelm successfully isolated molybdenum using carbon and linseed oil in 1781.

  • 1782

    Tellurium [Te]

    Tellurium (Latin tellus meaning "earth") was discovered in the 18th century in a gold ore from the mines in Kleinschlatten (today Zlatna), near today's city of Alba Iulia, Romania. In 1782 Franz-Joseph Müller von Reichenstein, who was then serving as the Austrian chief inspector of mines in Transylvania, concluded that the ore did not contain antimony but was bismuth sulfide. The following year, he reported that this was erroneous and that the ore contained mostly gold and an unknown metal very similar to antimony. After a thorough investigation that lasted three years and included more than fifty tests, Müller determined the specific gravity of the mineral and noted that when heated, the new metal gives off a white smoke with a radish-like odor; that it imparts a red color to sulfuric acid; and that when this solution is diluted with water, it has a black precipitate. Nevertheless, he was not able to identify this metal and gave it the names aurum paradoxum (paradoxical gold) and metallum problematicum (problem metal), because it did not exhibit the properties predicted for antimony. In 1789, a Hungarian scientist, Pál Kitaibel, discovered the element independently in an ore from Deutsch-Pilsen that had been regarded as argentiferous molybdenite, but later he gave the credit to Müller. In 1798, it was named by Martin Heinrich Klaproth, who had earlier isolated it from the mineral calaverite.

  • 1783

    Tungsten [W]

    In 1781, Carl Wilhelm Scheele discovered that a new acid, tungstic acid, could be made from scheelite (at the time called tungsten). Scheele and Torbern Bergman suggested that it might be possible to obtain a new metal by reducing this acid. In 1783, José and Fausto Elhuyar found an acid made from wolframite that was identical to tungstic acid. Later that year, at the Royal Basque Society in the town of Bergara, Spain, the brothers succeeded in isolating tungsten by reduction of this acid with charcoal, and they are credited with the discovery of the element (they called it "wolfram" or "volfram").

  • 1787

    Strontium [Sr]

    Both strontium and strontianite are named after Strontian, a village in Scotland near which the mineral was discovered in 1790 by Adair Crawford and William Cruickshank; it was identified as a new element the next year from its crimson-red flame test color. The element was eventually isolated by Sir Humphry Davy in 1808 by the electrolysis of a mixture containing strontium chloride and mercuric oxide, and announced by him in a lecture to the Royal Society on 30 June 1808. In keeping with the naming of the other alkaline earths, he changed the name to strontium.

  • 1789

    Zirconium [Zr]

    The zirconium-containing mineral zircon and related minerals (jargoon, hyacinth, jacinth, ligure) were mentioned in biblical writings. The mineral was not known to contain a new element until 1789, when Klaproth analyzed a jargoon from the island of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). He named the new element Zirkonerde (zirconia). Humphry Davy attempted to isolate this new element in 1808 through electrolysis, but failed. Zirconium metal was first obtained in an impure form in 1824 by Berzelius by heating a mixture of potassium and potassium zirconium fluoride in an iron tube.The crystal bar process (also known as the Iodide Process), discovered by Anton Eduard van Arkel and Jan Hendrik de Boer in 1925, was the first industrial process for the commercial production of metallic zirconium.

    Uranium [U]

  • 1791

    Titanium [Ti]

    Titanium was discovered in 1791 by the clergyman and geologist William Gregor as an inclusion of a mineral in Cornwall, Great Britain. Gregor recognized the presence of a new element in ilmenite when he found black sand by a stream and noticed the sand was attracted by a magnet. Analyzing the sand, he determined the presence of two metal oxides: iron oxide (explaining the attraction to the magnet) and 45.25% of a white metallic oxide he could not identify. Realizing that the unidentified oxide contained a metal that did not match any known element, in 1791 Gregor reported his findings in both German and French science journals:Crell's Annalen and Observations et Mémoires sur la Physique. Around the same time, Franz-Joseph Müller von Reichenstein produced a similar substance, but could not identify it. The oxide was independently rediscovered in 1795 by Prussian chemist Martin Heinrich Klaproth in rutile from Boinik (the German name of Bajmócska), a village in Hungary (now Bojničky in Slovakia). Klaproth found that it contained a new element and named it for the Titans of Greek mythology. After hearing about Gregor's earlier discovery, he obtained a sample of manaccanite and confirmed that it contained titanium.

  • 1794

    Chromium [Cr]

    Chromium minerals as pigments came to the attention of the west in the eighteenth century. On 26 July 1761, Johann Gottlob Lehmann found an orange-red mineral in the Beryozovskoye mines in the Ural Mountains which he named Siberian red lead. In 1770, Peter Simon Pallas visited the same site as Lehmann and found a red lead mineral that was discovered to possess useful properties as a pigment in paints. After Pallas, the use of Siberian red lead as a paint pigment began to develop rapidly throughout the region. Crocoite would be the principal source of chromium in pigments until the discovery of chromite many years later. In 1794, Louis Nicolas Vauquelin received samples of crocoite ore. He produced chromium trioxide (CrO3) by mixing crocoite with hydrochloric acid. In 1797, Vauquelin discovered that he could isolate metallic chromium by heating the oxide in a charcoal oven, for which he is credited as the one who truly discovered the element.

    Yttrium [Y]

    In 1787, part-time chemist Carl Axel Arrhenius found a heavy black rock in an old quarry near the Swedish village of Ytterby (now part of the Stockholm Archipelago). Thinking it was an unknown mineral containing the newly discovered element tungsten, he named it ytterbite[d] and sent samples to various chemists for analysis. Johan Gadolin at the University of Åbo identified a new oxide (or "earth") in Arrhenius' sample in 1789, and published his completed analysis in 1794. Anders Gustaf Ekeberg confirmed the identification in 1797 and named the new oxide yttria. Friedrich Wöhler is credited with first isolating the metal in 1828 by reacting a volatile chloride that he believed to be yttrium chloride with potassium. Until the early 1920s, the chemical symbol Yt was used for the element, after which Y came into common use.

  • 1798

    Beryllium [Be]

    The mineral beryl, which contains beryllium, has been used at least since the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt. In the first century CE, Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder mentioned in his encyclopedia Natural History that beryl and emerald ("smaragdus") were similar. The Papyrus Graecus Holmiensis, written in the third or fourth century CE, contains notes on how to prepare artificial emerald and beryl. In a 1798 paper read before the Institut de France, Vauquelin reported that he found a new "earth" by dissolving aluminium hydroxide from emerald and beryl in an additional alkali. The editors of the journal Annales de Chimie et de Physique named the new earth "glucine" for the sweet taste of some of its compounds. Klaproth preferred the name "beryllina" due to the fact that yttria also formed sweet salts. The name "beryllium" was first used by Wöhler in 1828.

  • 1801

    Vanadium [V]

    Spanish scientist Andrés Manuel del Río discovered compounds of vanadium in 1801 in Mexico by analyzing a new lead-bearing mineral he called "brown lead". Though he initially presumed its qualities were due to the presence of a new element, he was later erroneously convinced by French chemist Hippolyte Victor Collet-Descotils that the element was just chromium. Then in 1830, Nils Gabriel Sefström generated chlorides of vanadium, thus proving there was a new element, and named it "vanadium" after the Scandinavian goddess of beauty and fertility, Vanadís (Freyja). The name was based on the wide range of colors found in vanadium compounds. Del Rio's lead mineral was ultimately named vanadinite for its vanadium content. In 1867 Henry Enfield Roscoe obtained the pure element.

    Niobium [Nb]

    Niobium was identified by English chemist Charles Hatchett in 1801. He found a new element in a mineral sample that had been sent to England from Connecticut, United States in 1734 by John Winthrop F.R.S. (grandson of John Winthrop the Younger) and named the mineral columbite and the new element columbium after Columbia, the poetic name for the United States. In 1809, English chemist William Hyde Wollaston wrongly concluded that tantalum and columbium were identical. German chemist Heinrich Rose determined in 1846 that tantalum ores contain a second element, which he named niobium. In 1864 and 1865, a series of scientific findings clarified that niobium and columbium were the same element (as distinguished from tantalum), and for a century both names were used interchangeably. Niobium was officially adopted as the name of the element in 1949, but the name columbium remains in current use in metallurgy in the United States.

  • 1802

    Palladium [Pd]

    William Hyde Wollaston noted the discovery of a new noble metal in July 1802 in his lab book and named it palladium in August of the same year. Wollaston purified a quantity of the material and offered it, without naming the discoverer, in a small shop in Soho in April 1803. After harsh criticism from Richard Chenevix, who claimed that palladium was an alloy of platinum and mercury, Wollaston anonymously offered a reward of £20 for 20 grains of synthetic palladium alloy. Chenevix received the Copley Medal in 1803 after he published his experiments on palladium. Wollaston published the discovery of rhodium in 1804 and mentions some of his work on palladium. He disclosed that he was the discoverer of palladium in a publication in 1805. It was named by Wollaston in 1802 after the asteroid 2 Pallas, which had been discovered two months earlier.

    Tantalum [Ta]

    Tantalum was discovered in Sweden in 1802 by Anders Ekeberg, in two mineral samples – one from Sweden and the other from Finland. One year earlier, Charles Hatchett had discovered columbium (now niobium), and in 1809 the English chemist William Hyde Wollaston compared its oxide, columbite with a density of 5.918 g/cm3, to that of tantalum, tantalite with a density of 7.935 g/cm3. He concluded that the two oxides, despite their difference in measured density, were identical and kept the name tantalum. After Friedrich Wöhler confirmed these results, it was thought that columbium and tantalum were the same element. This conclusion was disputed in 1846 by the German chemist Heinrich Rose, who argued that there were two additional elements in the tantalite sample, and he named them after the children of Tantalus: niobium (from Niobe, the goddess of tears), and pelopium (from Pelops). The supposed element "pelopium" was later identified as a mixture of tantalum and niobium, and it was found that the niobium was identical to the columbium already discovered in 1801 by Hatchett.

  • 1803

    Cerium [Ce]

    Cerium was discovered in Bastnäs in Sweden by Jöns Jakob Berzelius and Wilhelm Hisinger, and independently in Germany by Martin Heinrich Klaproth, both in 1803. Cerium was named by Berzelius after the asteroid Ceres, discovered two years earlier. The asteroid is itself named after the Roman goddess Ceres, goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships. Cerium was originally isolated in the form of its oxide, which was named ceria, a term that is still used. Ceria, as isolated in 1803, contained all of the lanthanides present in the cerite ore from Bastnäs, Sweden, and thus only contained about 45% of what is now known to be pure ceria. It was not until Carl Gustaf Mosander succeeded in removing lanthana and "didymia" in the late 1830s that ceria was obtained pure.

    Osmium [Os]

    Osmium was discovered in 1803 by Smithson Tennant and William Hyde Wollaston in London, England. The discovery of osmium is intertwined with that of platinum and the other metals of the platinum group. Platinum reached Europe as platina ("small silver"), first encountered in the late 17th century in silver mines around the Chocó Department, in Colombia. The discovery that this metal was not an alloy, but a distinct new element, was published in 1748. Chemists who studied platinum dissolved it in aqua regia (a mixture of hydrochloric and nitric acids) to create soluble salts. They always observed a small amount of a dark, insoluble residue. Joseph Louis Proust thought that the residue was graphite. Victor Collet-Descotils, Antoine François, comte de Fourcroy, and Louis Nicolas Vauquelin also observed iridium in the black platinum residue in 1803, but did not obtain enough material for further experiments. In 1803, Smithson Tennant analyzed the insoluble residue and concluded that it must contain a new metal. Vauquelin treated the powder alternately with alkali and acids and obtained a volatile new oxide, which he believed was of this new metal—which he named ptene, from the Greek word πτηνος (ptènos) for winged. However, Tennant, who had the advantage of a much larger amount of residue, continued his research and identified two previously undiscovered elements in the black residue, iridium and osmium. He obtained a yellow solution by reactions with sodium hydroxide at red heat. After acidification he was able to distill the formed OsO4. He named it osmium after Greek osme meaning "a smell", because of the ashy and smoky smell of the volatile osmium tetroxide. Discovery of the new elements was documented in a letter to the Royal Society on June 21, 1804.

    Iridium [Ir]

    Chemists who studied platinum dissolved it in aqua regia (a mixture of hydrochloric and nitric acids) to create soluble salts. They always observed a small amount of a dark, insoluble residue. Joseph Louis Proust thought that the residue was graphite. The French chemists Victor Collet-Descotils, Antoine François, comte de Fourcroy, and Louis Nicolas Vauquelin also observed the black residue in 1803, but did not obtain enough for further experiments. In 1803, British scientist Smithson Tennant analyzed the insoluble residue and concluded that it must contain a new metal. Vauquelin treated the powder alternately with alkali and acids and obtained a volatile new oxide, which he believed to be of this new metal—which he named ptene, from the Greek word πτηνός ptēnós, "winged". Tennant, who had the advantage of a much greater amount of residue, continued his research and identified the two previously undiscovered elements in the black residue, iridium and osmium. He obtained dark red crystals by a sequence of reactions with sodium hydroxide and hydrochloric acid. He named iridium after Iris (Ἶρις), the Greek winged goddess of the rainbow and the messenger of the Olympian gods, because many of the salts he obtained were strongly colored. Discovery of the new elements was documented in a letter to the Royal Society on June 21, 1804.

  • 1804

    Rhodium [Rh]

    Rhodium is found in platinum or nickel ores with the other members of the platinum group metals. Rhodium (Greek rhodon (ῥόδον) meaning "rose") was discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston, soon after he discovered palladium. Rodium is named for the rose color of one of its chlorine compounds.

  • 1807

    Sodium [Na]

    In medieval Europe, a compound of sodium with the Latin name of sodanum was used as a headache remedy. The name sodium is thought to originate from the Arabic suda, meaning headache, as the headache-alleviating properties of sodium carbonate or soda were well known in early times. Although sodium, sometimes called soda, had long been recognized in compounds, the metal itself was not isolated until 1807 by Sir Humphry Davy through the electrolysis of sodium hydroxide. In 1809, the German physicist and chemist Ludwig Wilhelm Gilbert proposed the names Natronium for Humphry Davy's "sodium" and Kalium for Davy's "potassium". The chemical abbreviation for sodium was first published in 1814 by Jöns Jakob Berzelius in his system of atomic symbols, and is an abbreviation of the element's New Latin name natrium, which refers to the Egyptian natron, a natural mineral salt mainly consisting of hydrated sodium carbonate.

    Potassium [K]

    The English name for the element potassium comes from the word potash, which refers to an early method of extracting various potassium salts: placing in a pot the ash of burnt wood or tree leaves, adding water, heating, and evaporating the solution. When Humphry Davy first isolated the pure element using electrolysis in 1807, he named it potassium, which he derived from the word potash. The symbol K stems from kali, itself from the root word alkali, which in turn comes from Arabic: القَلْيَه al-qalyah 'plant ashes'. In 1797, the German chemist Martin Klaproth discovered "potash" in the minerals leucite and lepidolite, and realized that "potash" was not a product of plant growth but actually contained a new element, which he proposed calling kali. In 1807, Humphry Davy produced the element via electrolysis: in 1809, Ludwig Wilhelm Gilbert proposed the name Kalium for Davy's "potassium". In 1814, the Swedish chemist Berzelius advocated the name kalium for potassium, with the chemical symbol K.

  • 1808

    Boron [B]

    Boron was not recognized as an element until it was isolated by Sir Humphry Davy and by Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac and Louis Jacques Thénard. In 1808 Davy observed that electric current sent through a solution of borates produced a brown precipitate on one of the electrodes. In his subsequent experiments, he used potassium to reduce boric acid instead of electrolysis. He produced enough boron to confirm a new element and named it boracium. Gay-Lussac and Thénard used iron to reduce boric acid at high temperatures. By oxidizing boron with air, they showed that boric acid is its oxidation product. Jöns Jacob Berzelius identified it as an element in 1824.

    Calcium [Ca]

    Calcium compounds were known for millennia, although their chemical makeup was not understood until the 17th century. Lime as a building material and as plaster for statues was used as far back as around 7000 BC. Vitruvius, a Roman architect, noted that the lime that resulted was lighter than the original limestone, attributing this to the boiling of the water. In 1755, Joseph Black proved that this was due to the loss of carbon dioxide, which as a gas had not been recognised by the ancient Romans. In 1789, Antoine Lavoisier suspected that lime might be an oxide of a fundamental chemical element. Calcium, along with its congeners magnesium, strontium, and barium, was first isolated by Humphry Davy in 1808. Following the work of Jöns Jakob Berzelius and Magnus Martin af Pontin on electrolysis.

  • 1810

    Fluorine [F]

    Fluorite, the primary mineral source of fluorine which gave the element its name, was first described in 1529; as it was added to metal ores to lower their melting points for smelting, the Latin verb fluo meaning 'flow' gave the mineral its name. Proposed as an element in 1810, fluorine proved difficult and dangerous to separate from its compounds, and several early experimenters died or sustained injuries from their attempts. Only in 1886 did French chemist Henri Moissan isolate elemental fluorine using low-temperature electrolysis, a process still employed for modern production.

  • 1811

    Iodine [I]

    In 1811, iodine was discovered by French chemist Bernard Courtois. He once added excessive sulfuric acid when making Saltpetre and a cloud of purple vapour rose. He noted that the vapour crystallised on cold surfaces, making dark crystals. Courtois suspected that this material was a new element but lacked funding to pursue it further. Courtois gave samples to his friends, Charles Bernard Desormes and Nicolas Clément, to continue research. He also gave some of the substance to chemist Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac, and to physicist André-Marie Ampère. On 29 November 1813, Desormes and Clément made Courtois' discovery public. They described the substance to a meeting of the Imperial Institute of France. On 6 December, Gay-Lussac announced that the new substance was either an element or a compound of oxygen. Gay-Lussac suggested the name "iode", from the Ancient Greek ἰοειδής (ioeidēs, "violet"), because of the colour of iodine vapor. Ampère had given some of his sample to English chemist Humphry Davy, who experimented on the substance and noted its similarity to chlorine. Davy sent a letter dated 10 December to the Royal Society of London stating that he had identified a new element. Arguments erupted between Davy and Gay-Lussac over who identified iodine first, but both scientists acknowledged Courtois as the first to isolate the element.

  • 1817

    Lithium [Li]

    Petalite was discovered in 1800 by the Brazilian chemist and statesman José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva in a mine on the island of Utö, Sweden. However, it was not until 1817 that Johan August Arfwedson, then working in the laboratory of the chemist Jöns Jakob Berzelius, detected the presence of a new element while analyzing petalite ore. This element formed compounds similar to those of sodium and potassium, though its carbonate and hydroxide were less soluble in water and less alkaline. Berzelius gave the alkaline material the name "lithion/lithina", from the Greek word λιθoς (transliterated as lithos, meaning "stone"), to reflect its discovery in a solid mineral, as opposed to potassium, which had been discovered in plant ashes, and sodium, which was known partly for its high abundance in animal blood. He named the metal inside the material "lithium".

    Selenium [Se]

    Selenium (Greek σελήνη selene meaning "Moon") was discovered in 1817 by Jöns Jacob Berzelius and Johan Gottlieb Gahn. Both chemists owned a chemistry plant near Gripsholm, Sweden, producing sulfuric acid by the lead chamber process. The pyrite from the Falun Mine created a red precipitate in the lead chambers which was presumed to be an arsenic compound, so the pyrite's use to make acid was discontinued. Berzelius and Gahn wanted to use the pyrite and they also observed that the red precipitate gave off a smell like horseradish when burned. This smell was not typical of arsenic, but a similar odor was known from tellurium compounds. Hence, Berzelius's first letter to Alexander Marcet stated that this was a tellurium compound. However, the lack of tellurium compounds in the Falun Mine minerals eventually led Berzelius to reanalyze the red precipitate, and in 1818 he wrote a second letter to Marcet describing a newly found element similar to sulfur and tellurium. Because of its similarity to tellurium, named for the Earth, Berzelius named the new element after the Moon.

    Cadmium [Cd]

    Cadmium (Latin cadmia, Greek καδμεία meaning "calamine", a cadmium-bearing mixture of minerals that was named after the Greek mythological character Κάδμος, Cadmus, the founder of Thebes) was discovered in contaminated zinc compounds sold in pharmacies in Germany in 1817 by Friedrich Stromeyer. Karl Samuel Leberecht Hermann simultaneously investigated the discoloration in zinc oxide and found an impurity, first suspected to be arsenic, because of the yellow precipitate with hydrogen sulfide. Additionally Stromeyer discovered that one supplier sold zinc carbonate instead of zinc oxide. Stromeyer found the new element as an impurity in zinc carbonate (calamine), and, for 100 years, Germany remained the only important producer of the metal. The metal was named after the Latin word for calamine, because it was found in this zinc ore. Stromeyer noted that some impure samples of calamine changed color when heated but pure calamine did not. He was persistent in studying these results and eventually isolated cadmium metal by roasting and reducing the sulfide.

  • 1823

    Silicon [Si]

    In 1787, Antoine Lavoisier suspected that silica might be an oxide of a fundamental chemical element. After an attempt to isolate silicon in 1808, Sir Humphry Davy proposed the name "silicium" for silicon. Gay-Lussac and Thénard are thought to have prepared impure amorphous silicon in 1811, through the heating of recently isolated potassium metal with silicon tetrafluoride, but they did not purify and characterize the product, nor identify it as a new element. Silicon was given its present name in 1817 by Scottish chemist Thomas Thomson. He retained part of Davy's name but added "-on" because he believed that silicon was a nonmetal similar to boron and carbon. In 1824, Jöns Jacob Berzelius prepared amorphous silicon using approximately the same method as Gay-Lussac (reducing potassium fluorosilicate with molten potassium metal), but purifying the product to a brown powder by repeatedly washing it. As a result, he is usually given credit for the element's discovery.

  • 1824

    Aluminium [Al]

    Attempts to produce aluminium metal date back to 1760. The first successful attempt, however, was completed in 1824 by Danish physicist and chemist Hans Christian Ørsted. He reacted anhydrous aluminium chloride with potassium amalgam, yielding a lump of metal looking similar to tin. He presented his results and demonstrated a sample of the new metal in 1825. In 1827, German chemist Friedrich Wöhler repeated Ørsted's experiments but did not identify any aluminium. He conducted a similar experiment in the same year by mixing anhydrous aluminium chloride with potassium and produced a powder of aluminium. In 1845, he was able to produce small pieces of the metal and described some physical properties of this metal. For many years thereafter, Wöhler was credited as the discoverer of aluminium. The first industrial production of aluminium was initiated by French chemist Henri Étienne Sainte-Claire Deville in 1856.

  • 1825

    Bromine [Br]

    Bromine was discovered independently by two chemists, Carl Jacob Löwig and Antoine Balard, in 1825 and 1826, respectively. Löwig isolated bromine from a mineral water spring from his hometown Bad Kreuznach in 1825. Löwig used a solution of the mineral salt saturated with chlorine and extracted the bromine with diethyl ether. The publication of the results was delayed and Balard published his results first. Balard found bromine chemicals in the ash of seaweed from the salt marshes of Montpellier. The seaweed was used to produce iodine, but also contained bromine. Balard distilled the bromine from a solution of seaweed ash saturated with chlorine. The properties of the resulting substance were intermediate between those of chlorine and iodine; thus he tried to prove that the substance was iodine monochloride (ICl), but after failing to do so he was sure that he had found a new element and named it muride, derived from the Latin word muria ("brine").

  • 1829

    Thorium [Th]

  • 1838

    Lanthanum [La]

    In 1751, the Swedish mineralogist Axel Fredrik Cronstedt discovered a heavy mineral from the mine at Bastnäs, later named cerite. Thirty years later, the fifteen-year-old Wilhelm Hisinger, from the family owning the mine, sent a sample of it to Carl Scheele, who did not find any new elements within. In 1803, after Hisinger had become an ironmaster, he returned to the mineral with Jöns Jacob Berzelius and isolated a new oxide which they named ceria after the dwarf planet Ceres, which had been discovered two years earlier. Ceria was simultaneously independently isolated in Germany by Martin Heinrich Klaproth. Between 1839 and 1843, ceria was shown to be a mixture of oxides by the Swedish surgeon and chemist Carl Gustaf Mosander, who lived in the same house as Berzelius and studied under him: he separated out two other oxides which he named lanthana and didymia. He partially decomposed a sample of cerium nitrate by roasting it in air and then treating the resulting oxide with dilute nitric acid. That same year, Axel Erdmann, a student also at the Karolinska Institute, discovered lanthanum in a new mineral from Låven island located in a Norwegian fjord. Finally, Mosander explained his delay, saying that he had extracted a second element from cerium, and this he called didymium. Although he didn't realise it, didymium too was a mixture, and in 1885 it was separated into praseodymium and neodymium. Since lanthanum's properties differed only slightly from those of cerium, and occurred along with it in its salts, he named it from the Ancient Greek λανθάνειν [lanthanein] (lit. to lie hidden). Relatively pure lanthanum metal was first isolated in 1923.

  • 1843

    Terbium [Tb]

    Swedish chemist Carl Gustaf Mosander discovered terbium as a chemical element in 1843. He detected it as an impurity in yttrium oxide, Y2O3. Yttrium and terbium, as well as erbium and ytterbium, are named after the village of Ytterby in Sweden. Terbium was not isolated in pure form until the advent of ion exchange techniques.

    Erbium [Er]

    Erbium (for Ytterby, a village in Sweden) was discovered by Carl Gustaf Mosander in 1843. Mosander was working with a sample of what was thought to be the single metal oxide yttria, derived from the mineral gadolinite. He discovered that the sample contained at least two metal oxides in addition to pure yttria, which he named "erbia" and "terbia" after the village of Ytterby where the gadolinite had been found. Mosander was not certain of the purity of the oxides and later tests confirmed his uncertainty. Not only did the "yttria" contain yttrium, erbium, and terbium; in the ensuing years, chemists, geologists and spectroscopists discovered five additional elements: ytterbium, scandium, thulium, holmium, and gadolinium.

  • 1844

    Ruthenium [Ru]

    Though naturally occurring platinum alloys containing all six platinum-group metals were used for a long time by pre-Columbian Americans and known as a material to European chemists from the mid-16th century, not until the mid-18th century was platinum identified as a pure element. That natural platinum contained palladium, rhodium, osmium and iridium was discovered in the first decade of the 19th century. It is possible that the Polish chemist Jędrzej Śniadecki isolated element 44 (which he called "vestium" after the asteroid Vesta discovered shortly before) from South American platinum ores in 1807. He published an announcement of his discovery in 1808. His work was never confirmed, however, and he later withdrew his claim of discovery. Jöns Berzelius and Gottfried Osann nearly discovered ruthenium in 1827. They examined residues that were left after dissolving crude platinum from the Ural Mountains in aqua regia. Berzelius did not find any unusual metals, but Osann thought he found three new metals, which he called pluranium, ruthenium, and polinium. This discrepancy led to a long-standing controversy between Berzelius and Osann about the composition of the residues. As Osann was not able to repeat his isolation of ruthenium, he eventually relinquished his claims. In 1844, Karl Ernst Claus, a Russian scientist of Baltic German descent, showed that the compounds prepared by Gottfried Osann contained small amounts of ruthenium, which Claus had discovered the same year. Claus isolated ruthenium from the platinum residues of rouble production while he was working in Kazan University, Kazan. Choosing the name for the new element, Claus stated: "I named the new body, in honour of my Motherland, ruthenium. I had every right to call it by this name because Mr. Osann relinquished his ruthenium and the word does not yet exist in chemistry." In doing so, Claus started a trend that continues to this day - naming an element after a country.

  • 1860

    Cesium [Cs]

    In 1860, German chemist Robert Bunsen and physicist Gustav Kirchhoff discovered caesium in the mineral water from Dürkheim, Germany. Because of the bright blue lines in the emission spectrum, they derived the name from the Latin word caesius, meaning sky-blue. Caesium was the first element to be discovered with a spectroscope, which had been invented by Bunsen and Kirchhoff only a year previously. In 1967, acting on Einstein's proof that the speed of light is the most-constant dimension in the universe, the International System of Units used two specific wave counts from an emission spectrum of caesium-133 to co-define the second and the metre. Since then, caesium has been widely used in highly accurate atomic clocks.

  • 1861

    Rubidium [Rb]

    Rubidium was discovered in 1861 by Robert Bunsen and Gustav Kirchhoff, in Heidelberg, Germany, in the mineral lepidolite through flame spectroscopy. Because of the bright red lines in its emission spectrum, they chose a name derived from the Latin word rubidus, meaning "deep red". The slight radioactivity of rubidium was discovered in 1908, but that was before the theory of isotopes was established in 1910, and the low level of activity (half-life greater than 1010 years) made interpretation complicated.

    Thallium [Tl]

    Thallium (Greek θαλλός, thallos, meaning "a green shoot or twig") was discovered by William Crookes and Claude Auguste Lamy, working independently, both using flame spectroscopy (Crookes was first to publish his findings, on March 30, 1861). The name comes from thallium's bright green spectral emission lines. As both scientists discovered thallium independently and a large part of the work, especially the isolation of the metallic thallium was done by Lamy, Crookes tried to secure his own priority on the work. Lamy was awarded a medal at the International Exhibition in London 1862: For the discovery of a new and abundant source of thallium and after heavy protest Crookes also received a medal: thallium, for the discovery of the new element.

  • 1863

    Indium [In]

    In 1863, the German chemists Ferdinand Reich and Hieronymous Theodor Richter were testing ores from the mines around Freiberg, Saxony. They dissolved the minerals pyrite, arsenopyrite, galena and sphalerite in hydrochloric acid and distilled raw zinc chloride. Reich, who was color-blind, employed Richter as an assistant for detecting the colored spectral lines. Knowing that ores from that region sometimes contain thallium, they searched for the green thallium emission spectrum lines. Instead, they found a bright blue line. Because that blue line did not match any known element, they hypothesized a new element was present in the minerals. They named the element indium, from the indigo color seen in its spectrum, after the Latin indicum, meaning 'of India'. Richter went on to isolate the metal in 1864. An ingot of 0.5 kg (1.1 lb) was presented at the World Fair 1867. Reich and Richter later fell out when the latter claimed to be the sole discoverer.

  • 1868

    Helium [He]

    Helium was first detected as an unknown, yellow spectral line signature in sunlight during a solar eclipse in 1868 by Georges Rayet, Captain C. T. Haig, Norman R. Pogson, and Lieutenant John Herschel, and was subsequently confirmed by French astronomer Jules Janssen during a total solar eclipse in Guntur, India. Janssen is often jointly credited with detecting the element, along with Norman Lockyer. Janssen recorded the helium spectral line during the solar eclipse of 1868, while Lockyer observed it from Britain. Lockyer was the first to propose that the line was due to a new element. Lockyer and English chemist Edward Frankland named the element with the Greek word for the Sun, ἥλιος (helios). The formal discovery of the element was made in 1895 by chemists Sir William Ramsay, Per Teodor Cleve, and Nils Abraham Langlet, who found helium emanating from the uranium ore, cleveite, which is now not regarded as a separate mineral species, but as a variety of uraninite.

  • 1875

    Gallium [Ga]

    In 1871, the existence of gallium was first predicted by Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev, who named it "eka-aluminium" from its position in his periodic table. He also predicted several properties of eka-aluminium that correspond closely to the real properties of gallium, such as its density, melting point, oxide character, and bonding in chloride. Gallium was discovered using spectroscopy by French chemist Paul Emile Lecoq de Boisbaudran in 1875 from its characteristic spectrum (two violet lines) in a sample of sphalerite. Later that year, Lecoq obtained the free metal by electrolysis of the hydroxide in potassium hydroxide solution. He named the element "gallia", from Latin Gallia meaning Gaul, after his native land of France.

  • 1878

    Holmium [Ho]

    Holmium was discovered through isolation by Swedish chemist Per Theodor Cleve and independently by Jacques-Louis Soret and Marc Delafontaine, who observed it spectroscopically in 1878. Its oxide was first isolated from rare-earth ores by Cleve in 1878. The element's name comes from Holmia, the Latin name for the city of Stockholm. As well, Per Teodor Cleve independently discovered the element while he was working on erbia earth (erbium oxide), and was the first to isolate it. Using the method developed by Carl Gustaf Mosander, Cleve first removed all of the known contaminants from erbia. The result of that effort was two new materials, one brown and one green. He named the brown substance holmia (after the Latin name for Cleve's home town, Stockholm) and the green one thulia. Holmia was later found to be the holmium oxide, and thulia was thulium oxide. Like many other lanthanides, holmium is found in the minerals monazite and gadolinite and is usually commercially extracted from monazite using ion-exchange techniques.

    Ytterbium [Yb]

    In 1878, the Swiss chemist Jean Charles Galissard de Marignac separated from the rare earth "erbia" another independent component, which he called "ytterbia", for Ytterby, the village in Sweden near where he found the new component of erbium. He suspected that ytterbia was a compound of a new element that he called "ytterbium" (in total, four elements were named after the village, the others being yttrium, terbium, and erbium). In 1907, the new earth "lutecia" was separated from ytterbia, from which the element "lutecium" (now lutetium) was extracted by Georges Urbain, Carl Auer von Welsbach, and Charles James. After some discussion, Marignac's name "ytterbium" was retained. A relatively pure sample of the metal was not obtained until 1953. At present, ytterbium is mainly used as a dopant of stainless steel or active laser media, and less often as a gamma ray source.

  • 1879

    Scandium [Sc]

    Dmitri Mendeleev, who is referred to as the father of the periodic table, predicted the existence of an element ekaboron, with an atomic mass between 40 and 48 in 1869. Lars Fredrik Nilson and his team detected this element in the minerals euxenite and gadolinite in 1879. Nilson prepared 2 grams of scandium oxide of high purity. He named the element scandium, from the Latin Scandia meaning "Scandinavia". Nilson was apparently unaware of Mendeleev's prediction, but Per Teodor Cleve recognized the correspondence and notified Mendeleev. Metallic scandium was produced for the first time in 1937 by electrolysis of a eutectic mixture of potassium, lithium, and scandium chlorides, at 700–800 °C.

    Samarium [Sm]

    Detection of samarium and related elements was announced by several scientists in the second half of the 19th century; however, most sources give priority to French chemist Paul-Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran. Boisbaudran isolated samarium oxide and/or hydroxide in Paris in 1879 from the mineral samarskite and identified a new element in it via sharp optical absorption lines. Swiss chemist Marc Delafontaine announced a new element decipium (from Latin: decipiens meaning "deceptive, misleading") in 1878, but later in 1880–1881 demonstrated that it was a mix of several elements, one being identical to Boisbaudran's samarium. Though samarskite was first found in the remote Russian region of Urals, by the late 1870s it had been found in other places, making it available to many researchers. In particular, it was found that the samarium isolated by Boisbaudran was also impure and had a comparable amount of europium. The pure element was produced only in 1901 by Eugène-Anatole Demarçay. Boisbaudran named his element samaria after the mineral samarskite, which in turn honored Vassili Samarsky-Bykhovets (1803–1870).

    Thulium [Tm]

    Thulium was discovered by Swedish chemist Per Teodor Cleve in 1879 by looking for impurities in the oxides of other rare earth elements (this was the same method Carl Gustaf Mosander earlier used to discover some other rare earth elements). Cleve started by removing all of the known contaminants of erbia (Er2O3). Upon additional processing, he obtained two new substances; one brown and one green. The brown substance was the oxide of the element holmium and was named holmia by Cleve, and the green substance was the oxide of an unknown element. Cleve named the oxide thulia and its element thulium after Thule, an Ancient Greek place name associated with Scandinavia or Iceland. Thulium's atomic symbol was initially Tu, but later changed to Tm.

  • 1880

    Gadolinium [Gd]

    Gadolinium is named after the mineral gadolinite, in turn named after Finnish chemist and geologist Johan Gadolin. In 1880, the Swiss chemist Jean Charles Galissard de Marignac observed the spectroscopic lines from gadolinium in samples of gadolinite (which actually contains relatively little gadolinium, but enough to show a spectrum) and in the separate mineral cerite. The latter mineral proved to contain far more of the element with the new spectral line. De Marignac eventually separated a mineral oxide from cerite, which he realized was the oxide of this new element. He named the oxide "gadolinia". Because he realized that "gadolinia" was the oxide of a new element, he is credited with the discovery of gadolinium. The French chemist Paul-Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran carried out the separation of gadolinium metal from gadolinia in 1886.

  • 1885

    Praseodymium [Pr]

    In 1841, Swedish chemist Carl Gustav Mosander extracted a rare-earth oxide residue he called didymium from a residue he called "lanthana", in turn separated from cerium salts. In 1885, the Austrian chemist Baron Carl Auer von Welsbach separated didymium into two elements that gave salts of different colours, which he named praseodymium and neodymium. The name praseodymium comes from the Ancient Greek πράσινος (prasinos), meaning 'leek-green', and δίδυμος (didymos) 'twin'.

    Neodymium [Nd]

    Neodymium was discovered in 1885 by the Austrian chemist Carl Auer von Welsbach, who also discovered praseodymium. The name neodymium is derived from the Greek words neos (νέος), new, and didymos (διδύμος), twin.

  • 1886

    Germanium [Ge]

    Because it seldom appears in high concentration, germanium was discovered comparatively late in the discovery of the elements. Germanium ranks near fiftieth in relative abundance of the elements in the Earth's crust. In his report on The Periodic Law of the Chemical Elements in 1869, the Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev predicted the existence of several unknown chemical elements, including one that would fill a gap in the carbon family, located between silicon and tin. Because of its position in his periodic table, Mendeleev called it ekasilicon (Es), and he estimated its atomic weight to be 70 (later 72). In 1886, Clemens Winkler at Freiberg University found the new element, along with silver and sulfur, in the mineral argyrodite. Winkler named the element after his country, Germany. Germanium is mined primarily from sphalerite (the primary ore of zinc), though germanium is also recovered commercially from silver, lead, and copper ores.

    Dysprosium [Dy]

    In 1878, erbium ores were found to contain the oxides of holmium and thulium. French chemist Paul Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran, while working with holmium oxide, separated dysprosium oxide from it in Paris in 1886. His procedure for isolating the dysprosium involved dissolving dysprosium oxide in acid, then adding ammonia to precipitate the hydroxide. He was only able to isolate dysprosium from its oxide after more than 30 attempts at his procedure. On succeeding, he named the element dysprosium from the Greek dysprositos (δυσπρόσιτος), meaning "hard to get". The element was not isolated in relatively pure form until after the development of ion exchange techniques by Frank Spedding at Iowa State University in the early 1950s.

  • 1894

    Argon [Ar]

    Argon (Greek ἀργόν, neuter singular form of ἀργός meaning "lazy" or "inactive") is named in reference to its chemical inactivity. This chemical property of this first noble gas to be discovered impressed the namers. An unreactive gas was suspected to be a component of air by Henry Cavendish in 1785. Argon was first isolated from air in 1894 by Lord Rayleigh and Sir William Ramsay at University College London by removing oxygen, carbon dioxide, water, and nitrogen from a sample of clean air. They first accomplished this by replicating an experiment of Henry Cavendish's.

  • 1896

    Europium [Eu]

    Although europium is present in most of the minerals containing the other rare elements, due to the difficulties in separating the elements it was not until the late 1800s that the element was isolated. William Crookes observed the phosphorescent spectra of the rare elements including those eventually assigned to europium. Europium was first found in 1892 by Paul Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran, who obtained basic fractions from samarium-gadolinium concentrates which had spectral lines not accounted for by samarium or gadolinium. However, the discovery of europium is generally credited to French chemist Eugène-Anatole Demarçay, who suspected samples of the recently discovered element samarium were contaminated with an unknown element in 1896 and who was able to isolate it in 1901; he then named it europium.

  • 1898

    Neon [Ne]

    Neon was discovered in 1898 by the British chemists Sir William Ramsay (1852–1916) and Morris Travers (1872–1961) in London. Neon was discovered when Ramsay chilled a sample of air until it became a liquid, then warmed the liquid and captured the gases as they boiled off. The gases nitrogen, oxygen, and argon had been identified, but the remaining gases were isolated in roughly their order of abundance, in a six-week period beginning at the end of May 1898. First to be identified was krypton. The next, after krypton had been removed, was a gas which gave a brilliant red light under spectroscopic discharge. This gas, identified in June, was named "neon", the Greek analogue of the Latin novum ('new') suggested by Ramsay's son. The characteristic brilliant red-orange color emitted by gaseous neon when excited electrically was noted immediately. Travers later wrote: "the blaze of crimson light from the tube told its own story and was a sight to dwell upon and never forget."

    Krypton [Kr]

    Krypton was discovered in Britain in 1898 by William Ramsay, a Scottish chemist, and Morris Travers, an English chemist, in residue left from evaporating nearly all components of liquid air. Neon was discovered by a similar procedure by the same workers just a few weeks later. William Ramsay was awarded the 1904 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovery of a series of noble gases, including krypton.

    Xenon [Xe]

    Xenon was discovered in England by the Scottish chemist William Ramsay and English chemist Morris Travers in September 1898, shortly after their discovery of the elements krypton and neon. They found xenon in the residue left over from evaporating components of liquid air. Ramsay suggested the name xenon for this gas from the Greek word ξένον xénon, neuter singular form of ξένος xénos, meaning 'foreign(er)', 'strange(r)', or 'guest'.

    Polonium [Po]

    Tentatively called "radium F", polonium was discovered by Marie and Pierre Curie in July 1898, when it was extracted from the uranium ore pitchblende and identified solely by its strong radioactivity: it was the first element to be so discovered. It was named after Marie Curie's native land of Poland (Latin: Polonia). Poland at the time was under Russian, German, and Austro-Hungarian partition, and did not exist as an independent country. It was Curie's hope that naming the element after her native land would publicize its lack of independence. Polonium may be the first element named to highlight a political controversy. German scientist Willy Marckwald successfully isolated 3 milligrams of polonium in 1902, though at the time he believed it was a new element, which he dubbed "radio-tellurium", and it was not until 1905 that it was demonstrated to be the same as polonium.

    Radium [Ra]

    Radium, in the form of radium chloride, was discovered by Marie Skłodowska-Curie and her husband Pierre Curie on 21 December 1898, in a uraninite (pitchblende) sample from Jáchymov. They extracted the radium compound from uraninite and published the discovery at the French Academy of Sciences five days later. Radium was isolated in its metallic state by Marie Curie and André-Louis Debierne through the electrolysis of radium chloride in 1911. The naming of radium dates to about 1899, from the French word radium, formed in Modern Latin from radius (ray): this was in recognition of radium's power of emitting energy in the form of rays. In September 1910, Marie Curie and André-Louis Debierne announced that they had isolated radium as a pure metal through the electrolysis of pure radium chloride (RaCl2) solution using a mercury cathode, producing radium–mercury amalgam. This amalgam was then heated in an atmosphere of hydrogen gas to remove the mercury, leaving pure radium metal.

  • 1899

    Radon [Rn]

    Radon was the fifth radioactive element to be discovered, in 1899 by Ernest Rutherford and Robert B. Owens at McGill University in Montreal, after uranium, thorium, radium, and polonium. In 1899, Pierre and Marie Curie observed that the gas emitted by radium remained radioactive for a month. Later that year, Rutherford and Owens noticed variations when trying to measure radiation from thorium oxide. Rutherford noticed that the compounds of thorium continuously emit a radioactive gas that remains radioactive for several minutes, and called this gas "emanation" (from Latin: emanare, to flow out, and emanatio, expiration), and later "thorium emanation" ("Th Em"). In 1900, Friedrich Ernst Dorn reported some experiments in which he noticed that radium compounds emanate a radioactive gas he named "radium emanation" ("Ra Em"). In 1901, Rutherford and Harriet Brooks demonstrated that the emanations are radioactive, but credited the Curies for the discovery of the element. In 1903, similar emanations were observed from actinium by André-Louis Debierne, and were called "actinium emanation" ("Ac Em"). In 1909, Ramsay and Robert Whytlaw-Gray isolated radon and determined its melting temperature and approximate density. In 1910, they determined that it was the heaviest known gas.

  • 1902

    Actinium [Ac]

    André-Louis Debierne, a French chemist, announced the discovery of a new element in 1899. He separated it from pitchblende residues left by Marie and Pierre Curie after they had extracted radium. In 1899, Debierne described the substance as similar to titanium and (in 1900) as similar to thorium. Friedrich Oskar Giesel found in 1902 a substance similar to lanthanum and called it "emanium" in 1904. After a comparison of the substances' half-lives determined by Debierne, Harriet Brooks in 1904, and Otto Hahn and Otto Sackur in 1905, Debierne's chosen name for the new element was retained because it had seniority, despite the contradicting chemical properties he claimed for the element at different times. Together with polonium, radium, and radon, actinium was one of the first non-primordial radioactive elements to be isolated. The name actinium originates from the Ancient Greek aktis, aktinos (ακτίς, ακτίνος), meaning beam or ray. Its symbol Ac is also used in abbreviations of other compounds that have nothing to do with actinium, such as acetyl, acetate and sometimes acetaldehyde.

  • 1906

    Lutetium [Lu]

    Lutetium was independently discovered in 1907 by French scientist Georges Urbain, Austrian mineralogist Baron Carl Auer von Welsbach, and American chemist Charles James. All of these researchers found lutetium as an impurity in the mineral ytterbia, which was previously thought to consist entirely of ytterbium. The dispute on the priority of the discovery occurred shortly after, with Urbain and Welsbach accusing each other of publishing results influenced by the published research of the other; the naming honor went to Urbain, as he had published his results earlier. He chose the name lutecium for the new element, but in 1949 the spelling was changed to lutetium. In 1909, the priority was finally granted to Urbain and his names were adopted as official ones; however, the name cassiopeium (or later cassiopium) for element 71 proposed by Welsbach was used by many German scientists until the 1950s.

  • 1913

  • 1922

    Hafnium [Hf]

    In his report on The Periodic Law of the Chemical Elements, in 1869, Dmitri Mendeleev had implicitly predicted the existence of a heavier analog of titanium and zirconium. The X-ray spectroscopy done by Henry Moseley in 1914 showed a direct dependency between spectral line and effective nuclear charge. This led to the nuclear charge, or atomic number of an element, being used to ascertain its place within the periodic table. With this method, Moseley determined the number of lanthanides and showed the gaps in the atomic number sequence at numbers 43, 61, 72, and 75. The discovery of the gaps led to an extensive search for the missing elements. And the reappearance in 1922 of Urbain's claims that element 72 was a rare earth element discovered in 1911, Dirk Coster and Georg von Hevesy were motivated to search for the new element in zirconium ores.Hafnium was discovered by the two in 1923 in Copenhagen, Denmark, validating the original 1869 prediction of Mendeleev. It was ultimately found in zircon in Norway through X-ray spectroscopy analysis. The place where the discovery took place led to the element being named for the Latin name for "Copenhagen", Hafnia, the home town of Niels Bohr.

  • 1925

    Rhenium [Re]

    In 1922, Walter Noddack and Ida Tacke (future spouses Noddack) began searching for the elements number 43 (technetium) and 75 (rhenium). The Noddacks extracted 1 mg of oxide of what they believed to be element number 75 from platinum ore, and by X-ray emission spectroscopy found lines belonging to element number 75. Then the Noddacks published the discovery of element number 75 and named it rhenium after the river Rhine in Europe.

  • 1937

    Technetium [Tc]

    From the 1860s through 1871, early forms of the periodic table proposed by Dmitri Mendeleev contained a gap between molybdenum (element 42) and ruthenium (element 44). In 1871, Mendeleev predicted this missing element would occupy the empty place below manganese and have similar chemical properties. The discovery of element 43 was finally confirmed in a 1937 experiment at the University of Palermo in Sicily by Carlo Perrier and Emilio Segrè. Segrè enlisted his colleague Perrier to attempt to prove, through comparative chemistry, that the molybdenum activity was indeed from an element with the atomic number 43. In 1937, they succeeded in isolating the isotopes technetium-95m and technetium-97. University of Palermo officials wanted them to name their discovery "panormium", after the Latin name for Palermo, Panormus. In 1947 element 43 was named after the Greek word τεχνητός, meaning "artificial", since it was the first element to be artificially produced.

  • 1939

    Francium [Fr]

    Francium was discovered by Marguerite Perey in France (from which the element takes its name) in 1939. Prior to its discovery, it was referred to as eka-caesium or ekacaesium because of its conjectured existence below caesium in the periodic table. It was the last element discovered in nature, rather than synthesized, following hafnium and rhenium. Perey named the new isotope actinium-K (it is now referred to as francium-223) and in 1946, she proposed the name catium (Cm) for her newly discovered element, as she believed it to be the most electropositive cation of the elements. Irène Joliot-Curie, one of Perey's supervisors, opposed the name due to its connotation of cat rather than cation; furthermore, the symbol coincided with that which had since been assigned to curium. Perey then suggested francium, after France. This name was officially adopted by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) in 1949, becoming the second element after gallium to be named after France. It was assigned the symbol Fa, but this abbreviation was revised to the current Fr shortly thereafter.

  • 1940

    Astatine [At]

    Later in 1940, Dale R. Corson, Kenneth Ross MacKenzie, and Emilio Segrè isolated the element at the University of California, Berkeley. Instead of searching for the element in nature, the scientists created it by bombarding bismuth-209 with alpha particles in a cyclotron (particle accelerator) to produce, after emission of two neutrons, astatine-211. The discoverers, however, did not immediately suggest a name for the element. The reason for this was that at the time, an element created synthetically in "invisible quantities" that had not yet been discovered in nature was not seen as a completely valid one; in addition, chemists were reluctant to recognize radioactive isotopes as legitimately as stable ones. In 1943, astatine was found as a product of two naturally occurring decay chains by Berta Karlik and Traude Bernert, first in the so-called uranium series, and then in the actinium series. (Since then, astatine was also found in a third decay chain, the neptunium series.) Friedrich Paneth in 1946 called to finally recognize synthetic elements, quoting, among other reasons, recent confirmation of their natural occurrence, and proposed that the discoverers of the newly discovered unnamed elements name these elements. In early 1947, Nature published the discoverers' suggestions; a letter from Corson, MacKenzie, and Segrè suggested the name "astatine" coming from the Greek astatos (αστατος) meaning "unstable", because of its propensity for radioactive decay, with the ending "-ine", found in the names of the four previously discovered halogens. The name was also chosen to continue the tradition of the four stable halogens, where the name referred to a property of the element.

  • 1944

    Curium [Cm]

  • 1945

    Promethium [Pm]

    In 1902 Bohuslav Brauner suggested that there was a then-unknown element with properties intermediate between those of the known elements neodymium (60) and samarium (62); this was confirmed in 1914 by Henry Moseley, who, having measured the atomic numbers of all the elements then known, found that atomic number 61 was missing. In 1926, two groups (one Italian and one American) claimed to have isolated a sample of element 61; both "discoveries" were soon proven to be false. In 1938, during a nuclear experiment conducted at Ohio State University, a few radioactive nuclides were produced that certainly were not radioisotopes of neodymium or samarium, but there was a lack of chemical proof that element 61 was produced, and the discovery was not generally recognized. Promethium was first produced and characterized at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 1945 by the separation and analysis of the fission products of uranium fuel irradiated in a graphite reactor. The discoverers proposed the name "prometheum" (the spelling was subsequently changed), derived from Prometheus, the Titan in Greek mythology who stole fire from Mount Olympus and brought it down to humans, to symbolize "both the daring and the possible misuse of mankind's intellect". However, a sample of the metal was made only in 1963.

  • 1949

  • 1950

  • 1952

    Fermium [Fm]

  • 1955

  • 1961

  • 1966

  • 1969

  • 1970

    Dubnium [Db]

  • 1974

  • 1981

    Bohrium [Bh]

  • 1982

  • 1984

    Hassium [Hs]

  • 1994

  • 1996

  • 1998

    Flerovium [Fl]

    Flerovium is named after the Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia, where the element was discovered in 1998. The lab's name, in turn, honours Russian physicist Georgy Flyorov (Флёров in Cyrillic, hence the transliteration of "yo" to "e"). IUPAC adopted the name on 30 May 2012. The name and symbol had previously been proposed for element 102 (nobelium), but was not accepted by IUPAC at that time.

  • 2000

  • 2002

    Oganesson [Og]

    It was first synthesized in 2002 at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) in Dubna, near Moscow, Russia, by a joint team of Russian and American scientists. In December 2015, it was recognized as one of four new elements by the Joint Working Party of the international scientific bodies IUPAC and IUPAP. It was formally named on 28 November 2016.[14][15] The name honors the nuclear physicist Yuri Oganessian, who played a leading role in the discovery of the heaviest elements in the periodic table. It is one of only two elements named after a person who was alive at the time of naming, the other being seaborgium, and the only element whose eponym is alive today.

  • 2003

    Moscovium [Mc]

    Moscovium was first synthesized in 2003 by a joint team of Russian and American scientists at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) in Dubna, Russia. In December 2015, it was recognized as one of four new elements by the Joint Working Party of international scientific bodies IUPAC and IUPAP. On 28 November 2016, it was officially named after the Moscow Oblast, in which the JINR is situated.

  • 2009

    Tennessine [Ts]

    The discovery of tennessine was officially announced in Dubna, Russia, by a Russian–American collaboration in April 2010, which makes it the most recently discovered element as of 2022. One of its daughter isotopes was created directly in 2011, partially confirming the results of the experiment. The experiment itself was repeated successfully by the same collaboration in 2012 and by a joint German–American team in May 2014. In December 2015, the Joint Working Party of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) and the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP), which evaluates claims of discovery of new elements, recognized the element and assigned the priority to the Russian–American team. In June 2016, the IUPAC published a declaration stating that the discoverers had suggested the name tennessine after Tennessee, United States, a name which was officially adopted in November 2016.