Düllmann and his colleagues say their findings, published today (May 1) in the journal Physical Review Letters, are a step in the right direction.
"The successful experiments on element 117 are an important step on the path to the production and detection of elements situated on the 'island of stability' of super-heavy elements," Horst Stöcker, scientific director at the GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research, said in a statement.
Element 117 was first reported in 2010 by a team of American and Russian scientists working together at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia. Since then, researchers have performed subsequent tests to confirm the existence of the elusive new element.
A committee from the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), the worldwide federation charged with standardizing nomenclature in chemistry, will review the findings to decide whether to formally accept element 117 and grant it an official name.
Live Science news editor Megan Gannon contributed reporting to this article.