The periodic table is a marvel of design. Dmitri Mendeleev’s approach to organizing the elements was informative and elegant. It even helped predict the existence of elements then unknown to scientists. A periodic table is an important tool for scientists, but also for educators. The periodic table is an accessible way to teach students about the elements and their properties. It can also be inspirational. Engaging periodic tables can help pique a student’s interest in chemistry, opening up a variety of science career opportunities.
Scientists have proposed a variety of alternative periodic tables over the years. Yet scientists and educators continue to use the 18-column periodic table model developed by Horace Groves Deming, based on Mendeleev’s work. Even within that framework, however, designers continue to innovate, producing periodic tables that add interesting supplemental information or even just some visual flair. In this post, we’ll look some of the best periodic table designs on the web and all the ways they inform, entertain, and inspire viewers with the transformative power of chemistry. We won’t be looking at alternative periodic tables or “periodic tables” of other objects. Those are both excellent topics, but they’ll have to wait for their own posts.
Check out these amazing periodic table of the elements designs:
Take a closer look at each element with this interactive table from IUPAC. Each square contains a pie chart showing the abundance of the isotopes that make up the element’s atomic weight.
This charming design from Dr. Jamie Gallagher incorporates flags to show the country or countries of origin of the scientists who first isolated each element. The table marks elements isolated before the rise of modern science as “known to the ancients,” so we don’t need to argue over whether ancient Egypt or Mesopotamia discovered iron.
A malapropism turns into a fine work of design in this table, designed by high school students from Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts in in Dundalk, MD for a statue that’s now part of ACS headquarters in Washington DC. This table exchanges most of the scientific information typically found on a periodic table for a lively series of cartoon elephants embodying the properties of various elements.
Ever struggle to think of a common use for americium? This design from Keith Enevoldsen shows an example of how most of the elements. Hang this up in a classroom or lab, and you’ll always know we commonly use americium in smoke detectors. Click on each element to learn more about its properties and common uses.
An estimated 44 of the 118 elements will be in short supply in the future. This table, designed by Andy Brunning of Compound Interest, illustrates this problem. The table designates which elements are in scarce supply, which ones are increasingly high demand, and which ones could be at serious risk in the next century. The table refers to research from the Chemical Innovation Knowledge Transfer Network.
If you’ve ever been to an ACS National Meeting & Exhibition, you’ve seen the ACS mole mascots in action. For this table, student members of ACS ChemClubs from all over the United States were asked to design squares for the table, incorporating moles in a variety of ways.
This is the table for you if you’re an audio-visual learner. Watch a short video on each element with this interactive periodic table from video journalist Brady Haran working with chemists at The University of Nottingham. If you’re interested in making the videos easy to browse on a smartphone, you might consider printing out the QR code version of the table.
This table, from Theodore Gray, features images of samples of each element. Ultra-scarce human-made elements like Ferium are represented by symbols of the places and pictures of the people for which the element is named. Check out former ACS President Glenn T. Seaborg at 106!
In celebration of the International Year of Chemistry, a variety of artists, photographers, and designers created the images for this illustrated table from Chem 13 News magazine and the University of Waterloo’s Department of Chemistry.
In November 2016, IUPAC finalized names for the new elements 113, 115, 117, and 118. ACS produced this table with a clean, modern design to ensure every class and lab had access to a printable periodic table with the latest information.