Four scholars participating in this year’s CAS project Molecules in Extreme Environments last month published their findings on the cohesive energy of Copernicium, a ‘superheavy’ element that is notoriously difficult to study.

The fellows, Krista G. Steenbergen, Elke Pahl, Lukas F. Pasteka, and Peter Schwerdtfeger -- all of whom are affiliated with Massey University Auckland, New Zealand -- published their findings in a November 2017 issue of Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, a journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Studying Copernicium certainly fits the bill of molecules in extreme environments. Superheavy elements such as Copernicium are highly unstable and exist only briefly under highly controlled laboratory circumstances. In fact, the element does not occur naturally on Earth, and scientists have never been able to observe more than one atom of Copernicium at a time.

In their paper, the fellows corroborate what previous experimental energy measurements of Copernicium have found. The findings will help researchers conduct further experiments on the element, they write.

To learn more about Copernicium and how scholars study it, read our interview with Pahl and Steenbergen from this fall.