Important Updates to the Periodic Table of Elements

The Periodic Table of Elements, a staple in schools across Canada, is basically an ingredients list for everything that makes up our world. And as of yesterday, 14 of those ingredients changed, thanks to work by National Research Council (NRC) meteorologists, whose desire to push the limits and attempt what has never been done continues to fuel new discoveries.

The NRC Metrology team’s research has led to the first accurate measurement of the isotopic composition of iridium, the key element behind the leading theory of the mass extinction of dinosaurs. Accurate knowledge of an element’s isotopic composition is essential in many branches of chemistry and physics. Until now, iridium—like many elements on the Periodic Table—lacked a calibrated isotope ratio measurement.

Using state-of-the-art instrumentation known as multi-collector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, or MC-ICPMS, the team at the National Research Council was able to test the limits of high-precision isotope ratio measurements to perform the world’s first calibrated isotope ratio measurements of the element.