Skip to Main Content

Berkelium (Bk): Actinides

Berkelium (Bk)

What is Berkelium?

Berkelium is a transuranic member of the actinide series, with a silvery-white appearance. It does not occur naturally, and therefore was synthesized rather than being discovered. This synthesis was first accomplished by the team of Seaborg, Ghiorso, and Thompson at the University of California, Berkeley. This same team had been the first to produce americium and curium in 1944, and produced both berkelium and californium in 1949 and 1950. Americium had been given its name as a nod to its lanthanide analog that sits directly above it on the periodic table, europium. Likewise, berkelium was named after the city of its discovery just as its lanthanide analog, terbium, had been given a name derived from the town of Ytterby, Sweden, where the rare earth minerals were first found. Continue reading from American Elements

The History

Berkelium was first produced at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1949 by Stanley G. Thompson, Glenn T. Seaborg, Kenneth Street Jr. and Albert Ghiorso. Initial investigations were limited to tracer experiments (ion exchange and co-precipitation) but in 1952 experiments were initiated to provide macro amounts of berkelium. Continue reading from Live Science

Berkelium Facts

It is chemically reactive, oxidizing slowly in air.  The oxidation may be slow because of the initial formation of a thin protective oxide layer. Berkelium metal is dimorphic: double hexagonal close packed at room temperature and face centered cubic at higher temperatures. The metal dissolves rapidly in aqueous mineral acids, liberating hydrogen gas and forming Bk (III) in solution. Berkelium is of scientific research interest only.  Berkelium-249 is used as a target material for the production of heavier actinides such as lawrencium-260. Abundance earth’s crust: 0 parts per million by weight, 0 parts per million by moles. Berkelium is produced in miniscule amounts in nuclear reactors such as the High Flux Isotope Reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee by nuclear bombardment of plutonium, curium or americium with alpha particles. Continue reading from Chemicool

Chart of Elemental Properties for Berkelium

Watch a Video on Berkelium

Check out our Science Database or a Science Book from our Collection

Link to Science Reference Center Database
Link to Elemental by Tim James in the Catalog
Link to The Periodic Table: A Very Short Introduction by Eric Scerri in the Catalog
Link to Eureka by Chad Orzel in the Catalog
Link to Periodic Tales by Hugh Aldersey Williams in Hoopla
Link to Superheavy by Kit Chapman in the Catalog
Link to Absolutely Small by Michael D. Fayer in the Catalog
Link to Seven Elements That Changed The World by John Browne in the Catalog
Link to The Elements by Theodore W. Gray in the Catalog
Link to 10 Women Who Changed Science, And The World by Catherine Whitlock in the Catalog
Link to From Arsenic to Zirconium by Peter Davern in the Catalog
Link to Chemistry Demystified by Linda Williams in the Catalog
Link to The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean in the Catalog

Return to the Periodic Table of Elements Resource Guide Series