All transactinide elements with atomic number Z ≥ 104, now typically called superheavy elements (SHEs), have artificially been synthesized in heavy ion-induced nuclear fusion reactions using accelerators. Dr. Nozomi Sato has been interested in nuclear and chemical properties of SHEs, which exist in extreme regions of atomic nuclei and atoms, since her student days at Tohoku University, Japan. Under her doctoral program, she worked on the synthesis and chemistry of SHEs as a Junior Research Associate at RIKEN using the heavy-ion accelerators at the Radioactive Ion Beam Factory. In 2009, she received a PhD in science for her thesis on the production and decay properties of neutron-deficient Hs isotopes.
One of her memorable achievements on SHEs is the synthesis of new element, element 113 in the reaction of Bi-209 + Zn-70. This element was officially approved by IUPAC in 2015, and she and co-discoverers proposed the name “nihonium” and the symbol “Nh” for the element. This name came from Nihon which is one of the two ways to say “Japan” in Japanese, and literally means “the Land of Rising Sun”. Her proposal was approved in 2016 to finally complete the 7th period of the periodic table together with Mc, Ts, and Og. Nh is the first element discovered in Asia. For her achievements on SHEs, she received a total of 9 awards together with her co-investigators.
After receiving the PhD, she moved to Japan Atomic Energy Agency as a Postdoctoral Researcher in 2009-2012 to determine the first ionization potential of Lr and as a Special Topic Researcher in 2012-2014 to develop new production routes for medical isotopes such as Cu-67 and Mo-99. Since 2015, she has been working again at RIKEN to develop a large-scale production technology of At-211 for targeted alpha-particle therapy. At is the second artificial element discovered in 1940 at the University of California, Berkeley. By exploring new elements, she is dreaming that they will make our life more abundant.