21 Facts About Americium


Americium is a synthetic radioactive chemical element with the symbol Am and atomic number 95.

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Americium was first produced in 1944 by the group of Glenn T Seaborg from Berkeley, California, at the Metallurgical Laboratory of the University of Chicago, as part of the Manhattan Project.

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Americium is a relatively soft radioactive metal with silvery appearance.

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Americium-241 was directly obtained from plutonium upon absorption of two neutrons.

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Americium is produced mostly artificially in small quantities, for research purposes.

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Americium is one of the elements that have been detected in Przybylski's Star.

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Americium has been produced in small quantities in nuclear reactors for decades, and kilograms of its Am and Am isotopes have been accumulated by now.

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Americium is not synthesized directly from uranium – the most common reactor material – but from the plutonium isotope Pu.

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Americium-242 has a half-life of only 16 hours, which makes its further conversion to Am extremely inefficient.

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Americium compounds are then selectively extracted using multi-step chromatographic and centrifugation techniques with an appropriate reagent.

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Americium is relatively soft and easily deformable and has a significantly lower bulk modulus than the actinides before it: Th, Pa, U, Np and Pu.

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Americium is paramagnetic in a wide temperature range, from that of liquid helium, to room temperature and above.

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Americium oxide was prepared in minute amounts and has not been characterized in detail.

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Americium oxide is the main form of solid americium which is used in nearly all its applications.

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Americium fluoride is poorly soluble and precipitates upon reaction of Am and fluoride ions in weak acidic solutions:.

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Americium is an artificial element of recent origin, and thus does not have a biological requirement.

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Americium-242 is a short-lived isotope with a half-life of 16.

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Americium is used in the most common type of household smoke detector, which uses Am in the form of americium dioxide as its source of ionizing radiation.

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Americium is a starting material for the production of other transuranic elements and transactinides – for example, 82.

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Americium-241 has been used as a portable source of both gamma rays and alpha particles for a number of medical and industrial uses.

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Americium-241 is suitable for calibration of gamma-ray spectrometers in the low-energy range, since its spectrum consists of nearly a single peak and negligible Compton continuum .

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