The Japanese scientists who discovered atomic element 113 dubbed it “nihonium” — “nihon” meaning Japan in Japanese — on Wednesday evening, the Japan Times reports.
Led by Kyushu University professor Kosuke Morita, the Riken institute research team created the superheavy synthetic element three times in 2004, 2005 and 2012 by colliding zinc ions with bismuth.
A U.S.-Russian team also claimed to have uncovered the element, but the International Union of Pure Applied Chemistry and the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics corroborated that it was the Japan team who did so first.
The Japanese team earned the naming rights in December, and Morita proposed “nihonium” in March, the Times says. The name will be open to public commentary before it is made official.
The team’s proposed name follows suit with other atomic elements like polonium named after Poland, francium after France, and americium after the United States.