Monday, April 11, 2011

Three-letter atomic symbols for chemical elements

Known chemical elements have one- or two-letter atomic symbols. Predicted chemical elements typically occur in the scientific literature with three-letter symbols until they receive a permanent name and symbol from the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). The temporary designators for new chemical elements are systematically derived from their atomic number. For example, the element 114 is named ununquadium and its symbol is Uuq. The name is composed from the numerical roots un and quad for digits 1 and 4. The symbol is derived from the corresponding first letters of these roots. The element with atomic number 112 occurred in the literature as ununbium (bi for 2), having symbol Uub, before it was officially named copernicium (Cn).

In the context of data mining and cheminformatics applications, atoms, isotopes and nuclidic isomers of temporary-designator elements can be encoded in linear notation using the grammar and format options of the CurlySMILES language: an atomic node wild card with an MDAM annotation {!a} including a dictionary entry with key nuc and ila.

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