A view of the famous Red Square
. The region around the city was honored by the discoverers as "the ancient Russian land that is the home of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research" and became the namesake of moscovium.
The first successful synthesis of moscovium was by a joint team of Russian and American scientists in August 2003 at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) in Dubna, Russia. Headed by Russian nuclear physicist Yuri Oganessian, the team included American scientists of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The researchers on February 2, 2004, stated in Physical Review C that they bombarded americium-243 with calcium-48 ions to produce four atoms of moscovium. These atoms decayed by emission of alpha-particles to nihonium in about 100 milliseconds.
The Dubna–Livermore collaboration strengthened their claim to the discoveries of moscovium and nihonium by conducting chemical experiments on the final decay product 268Db. None of the nuclides in this decay chain were previously known, so existing experimental data was not available to support their claim. In June 2004 and December 2005, the presence of a dubnium isotope was confirmed by extracting the final decay products, measuring spontaneous fission (SF) activities and using chemical identification techniques to confirm that they behave like a group 5 element (as dubnium is known to be in group 5 of the periodic table). Both the half-life and the decay mode were confirmed for the proposed 268Db, lending support to the assignment of the parent nucleus to moscovium. However, in 2011, the IUPAC/IUPAP Joint Working Party (JWP) did not recognize the two elements as having been discovered, because current theory could not distinguish the chemical properties of group 4 and group 5 elements with sufficient confidence. Furthermore, the decay properties of all the nuclei in the decay chain of moscovium had not been previously characterized before the Dubna experiments, a situation which the JWP generally considers "troublesome, but not necessarily exclusive".
Road to confirmation
Two heavier isotopes of moscovium, 289Mc and 290Mc, were discovered in 2009–2010 as daughters of the tennessine isotopes 293Ts and 294Ts; the isotope 289Mc was later also synthesized directly and confirmed to have the same properties as found in the tennessine experiments. The JINR also had plans to study lighter isotopes of moscovium in 2017 by replacing the americium-243 target with the lighter isotope americium-241. The 48Ca+243Am reaction producing moscovium is planned to be the first experiment done at the new SHE Factory in 2018 at Dubna to test the systems in preparation for attempts at synthesising elements 119 and 120.
In 2011, the Joint Working Party of international scientific bodies International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) and International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) evaluated the 2004 and 2007 Dubna experiments, and concluded that they did not meet the criteria for discovery. Another evaluation of more recent experiments took place within the next few years, and a claim to the discovery of moscovium was again put forward by Dubna. In August 2013, a team of researchers at Lund University and at the Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung (GSI) in Darmstadt, Germany announced they had repeated the 2004 experiment, confirming Dubna's findings. Simultaneously, the 2004 experiment had been repeated at Dubna, now additionally also creating the isotope 289Mc that could serve as a cross-bombardment for confirming the discovery of the tennessine isotope 293Ts in 2010. Further confirmation was published by the team at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 2015.
In December 2015, the IUPAC/IUPAP Joint Working Party recognized the element's discovery and assigned the priority to the Dubna-Livermore collaboration of 2009–2010, giving them the right to suggest a permanent name for it. While they did not recognise the experiments synthesising 287Mc and 288Mc as persuasive due to the lack of a convincing identification of atomic number via cross-reactions, they recognised the 293Ts experiments as persuasive because its daughter 289Mc had been produced independently and found to exhibit the same properties.
In May 2016, Lund University (Lund, Scania, Sweden) and GSI cast some doubt on the syntheses of moscovium and tennessine. The decay chains assigned to 289Mc, the isotope instrumental in the confirmation of the syntheses of moscovium and tennessine, were found based on a new statistical method to be too different to belong to the same nuclide with a reasonably high probability. The reported 293Ts decay chains approved as such by the JWP were found to require splitting into individual data sets assigned to different tennessine isotopes. It was also found that the claimed link between the decay chains reported as from 293Ts and 289Mc probably did not exist. (On the other hand, the chains from the non-approved isotope 294Ts were found to be congruent.) The multiplicity of states found when nuclides that are not even–even undergo alpha decay is not unexpected and contributes to the lack of clarity in the cross-reactions. This study criticized the JWP report for overlooking subtleties associated with this issue, and considered it "problematic" that the only argument for the acceptance of the discoveries of moscovium and tennessine was a link they considered to be doubtful.
On June 8, 2017, two members of the Dubna team published a journal article answering these criticisms, analysing their data on the nuclides 293Ts and 289Mc with widely accepted statistical methods, noted that the 2016 studies indicating non-congruence produced problematic results when applied to radioactive decay: they excluded from the 90% confidence interval both average and extreme decay times, and the decay chains that would be excluded from the 90% confidence interval they chose were more probable to be observed than those that would be included. The 2017 reanalysis concluded that the observed decay chains of 293Ts and 289Mc were consistent with the assumption that only one nuclide was present at each step of the chain, although it would be desirable to be able to directly measure the mass number of the originating nucleus of each chain as well as the excitation function of the 243Am+48Ca reaction.
Using Mendeleev's nomenclature for unnamed and undiscovered elements, moscovium is sometimes known as eka-bismuth. In 1979 IUPAC recommended that the placeholder systematic element name ununpentium (with the corresponding symbol of Uup) be used until the discovery of the element is confirmed and a permanent name is decided. Although widely used in the chemical community on all levels, from chemistry classrooms to advanced textbooks, the recommendations were mostly ignored among scientists in the field, who called it "element 115", with the symbol of E115, (115) or even simply 115.
On 30 December 2015, discovery of the element was recognized by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). According to IUPAC recommendations, the discoverer(s) of a new element has the right to suggest a name. A suggested name was langevinium, after Paul Langevin. Later, the Dubna team mentioned the name moscovium several times as one among many possibilities, referring to the Moscow Oblast where Dubna is located.
In June 2016, IUPAC endorsed the latter proposal to be formally accepted by the end of the year, which it was on 28 November 2016. The naming made Russia one of two countries with an element named after both itself and its capital. The naming ceremony for moscovium, tennessine, and oganesson was held on 2 March 2017 at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow.