Anniversary for the periodic table

​The periodic table turns 150 this year and with that the UN has declared 2019 as the year of the periodic table.

It was the Russian scientist Dmitrij Mendelejev who in 1869 took the at the time known elements and structured them. He sorted them after mass and after periodic trends where the properties of the elements were relatively regular. Through the system, a logic of the elements suddenly appeared, and it became clear that the elements had similar properties depending on how close they were to each other in the periodic table.

Lars Öhrström is a professor of inorganic chemistry at Chalmers, and president of the inorganic division of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, IUPAC The division is responsible for the periodic table.

– It is difficult to imagine either biology, physics, chemistry or materials science without the periodic table. A world where the elements had random properties and the only thing you knew about them was the name of them, is difficult to imagine today, he says.

The periodic table also made it possible to predict elements that does not exist naturally and in this way researchers have been able to create elements in the laboratory. The most recent elements that Lars Öhrström and his colleagues at IUPAC approved were nihonium, moscovium, tennessine and oganesson. These were approved in 2016.

During 2019, the Swedish Chemical Society have assigned different elements to Swedish universities, with connection to the respective university. Chalmers has been assigned silicon, as one of Chalmers' most prominent chemists of all time, Arvid Hedvall, was a professor of silicate chemistry and has made a great imprint on our knowledge of silicon. We pay attention to this, among other things, through a poster exhibition that will be put up in the Chalmers library during the spring.

Text: Mats Tiborn

​Film: Johan Bodell

Published: Sun 05 May 2019.