Being doubly magic, it would also confer similar benefits in stability to the fused nuclei as the lead and bismuth targets from cold fusion had.
In collaboration with the team at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the United States, they made an attempt on element 114 (which was predicted to be a magic number, closing a proton shell, and hence more stable than element 113).
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Faced with this problem, Oganessian and his team at Dubna turned their renewed attention to the older hot fusion technique, in which heavy actinide targets were reacted with lighter ions.
Calcium-48 was suggested as an ideal projectile, because it is very neutron-rich for a light element (combined with the already neutron-rich actinides) and would minimise the inevitable neutron deficiencies of the nuclides produced.
Experiments support these theoretical predictions, with the half-lives of the confirmed nihonium isotopes increasing from milliseconds to seconds as neutrons are added and the island is approached.
Nihonium is calculated to have some similar properties to its lighter homologues, boron, aluminium, gallium, indium, and thallium, and behave as a post-transition metal like the heavier four, although it should also show several major differences from them.
It would nevertheless transpire that this first experiment aimed at element 114 may actually have been the first observation of an isotope of element 113.113, which fits well with the systematics and trends across the isotopes of element 114.