The 2010 Russian Federation National Award in Science and Technology is conferred to Mikhail Itkis and Yury Oganessian for their ground-breaking work in the stability of superheavy elements
Outstanding experimental physicists Mikhail Itkis and Yury Oganessian have been overseeing successful major research and unique experiments on the properties of new superheavy elements at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR). Their discoveries have led to the emergence of a whole new branch of study – the chemistry of superheavy elements, and the synthesis of new elements has made it possible to bring Mendeleev’s periodic table of the elements to completion.
Mikhail Itkis was born on December 7, 1942, in the village of Karashalskoye in Kazakhstan. He holds a doctorate in physics and mathematics, and is a professor and acting director at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research.
Mr Itkis is the initiator and director of the programme to study the formation of superheavy elements. He has helped to set up a unique accelerator and create new precision nuclear physics installations that can study rare processes in the formation and decay of heavy nuclei.
Yury Oganessian was born on April 14, 1933, in Rostov-on-Don. He is an academician in the Russian Academy of Sciences, holds a doctorate in physics and mathematics, and is a professor and scientific director of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research’s Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions.
The programme he heads has succeeded in synthesising new superheavy elements 113, 114, 115, 116 and 118 on the periodic table of the elements. These results have received worldwide recognition. The programme’s biggest achievement in 2009–2010 was the synthesis of a new element, 117 on the periodic table. Unlike previously known isotopes, most synthetic nuclei have long lifespans (by heavy nuclei standards anyway) – from one second to tens of hours. This indicates that the experiments have thus discovered the area of stability of superheavy elements.