Prospects for the Discovery of the Next New Element, C. Folden, Cyclotron Institute, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas USA − Currently, fusion-evaporation reactions are the preferred method for producing the heaviest elements.  These reactions involve the complete fusion of the projectile and target into a thermally equilibrated compound nucleus in a complex process.  The cross sections for these reactions have been described by the product of three factors: the cross section for capture of the projectile by the target, the probability of forming the compound nucleus (PCN), and the probability that the compound nucleus “survives” against fission (Wsur).  Experiments are currently underway worldwide to discover element 120, but the projectile which will result in the largest production cross section has not been determined.  These element discovery experiments rely on projectiles heavier than 48Ca, and their success likely depends on the magnitude of the decrease in PCN and Wsur when using these heavier projectiles.  At the Texas A&M University Cyclotron Institute, we have begun to investigate the effect of projectile atomic number on reaction cross section.  Initial experiments have focused on using lighter systems as models for new element synthesis by carefully choosing the projectile and target so that the projectile energy relative to the Coulomb barrier and the resulting excitation energy are comparable to those expected in much heavier systems.  The data suggest that the production of spherical ground-state nuclei is heavily suppressed by the large increase in level density that occurs if these nuclei deform during the de-excitation process.  These deformations result in an increase in the probability of fission and a substantial decrease in Wsur.  These data suggest that the reactions which could be used to discover new elements may have peak cross sections much less than 1 pb, and may be below the current limits of experimental sensitivity.  This talk will highlight these issues as they relate to the discovery of new elements.