SHIP detector in the German Museum

Detector used to discover new elements at GSI now on display at museum


A part of GSI's history has been on display in the new atomic physics exhibition at Deutsches Museum in Munich since the beginning of July 2022: The SHIP detector, which was used to discover the elements 107 to 112, and an exemplary target wheel are on display. 

Six new elements were discovered at GSI from 1981 to 1996. Some of the research instruments that made these discoveries possible are now on public display on Museum Island in Munich. 
To create a new element, two elements that occur naturally on Earth are used. For example, element 110, darmstadtium, was created by fusing nickel (element 28) and lead (element 82) (28+82=110). For this purpose, ions are brought to about 10% of the speed of light with a particle accelerator at GSI and then shot onto thin foils in a target wheel. The high speed overcomes the enormous repulsion of the two atomic nuclei and they can fuse to form a new element. Such a target wheel is now on display at Deutsches Museum, as is one of the detectors that was in use for years at the so-called SHIP velocity filter (Separator for Heavy Ion reaction Products) at GSI. Using a combination of very strong electric and magnetic fields, SHIP separated the electrically charged reaction products flying through the vacuum from the projectiles (nickel in this case) on the basis of their different velocities. After separation, the new elements were stopped in a silicon semiconductor detector, as now on display, and identified by measuring their characteristic alpha radiation. In this way, the six new elements Bohrium (107), Hassium (108), Meitnerium (109), Darmstadtium (110), Roentgenium (111), Copernicium (112) were discovered. (LW)

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Atomphysik-Ausstellung im Deutschen Museum (German only)