Skip to Main Content

Curium (Cm): Actinides

Curium (Cm)

What is Curium?

Curium (Cm), synthetic chemical element of the actinoid series of the periodic table, atomic number 96. Unknown in nature, curium (as the isotope curium-242) was discovered (summer 1944) at the University of Chicago by American chemists Glenn T. Seaborg, Ralph A. James, and Albert Ghiorso in a sample of a plutonium isotope, plutonium-239, that had been bombarded by helium ions (alpha particles) in the 152-cm (60-inch) cyclotron at the University of California, Berkeley. It was the third transuranium element to be discovered. The element was named after French physicists Pierre and Marie Curie. Curium is a silvery metal. Continue reading from Encyclopedia Britannica

The History

Curium was first made by the team of Glenn Seaborg, Ralph James, and Albert Ghiorso in 1944, using the cyclotron at Berkeley, California. They bombarded a piece of the newly discovered element plutonium (isotope 239) with alpha-particles. This was then sent to the Metallurgical Laboratory at the University of Chicago where a tiny sample of curium was eventually separated and identified. However, news of the new element was not disclosed until after the end of World War II. Most unusually, it was first revealed by Seaborg when he appeared as the guest scientist on a radio show for children on 11 November 1945. It was officially announced the following week. Continue reading from Royal Society of Chemistry

Curium Facts

Curium is highly radioactive. As a metal, it is lustrous and silvery. It is malleable, chemically reactive and electropositive. Currently, curium is used primarily for basic scientific research. The most stable isotope of curium, 247Cm, has a half-life of 16 million years. If absorbed in to the body, curium accumulates in the bones. Its radiation destroys red blood cell formation. Consequently, curium is considered very toxic. Continue reading from Live Science

Chart of Elemental Properties for Curium

Watch a Video on Curium

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