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Unlocking the Mysteries of Americium: Properties Characteristics and Uses

Americium: Properties, Characteristics, and Uses

Welcome to the world of Americium! In this article, we’ll explore the fascinating properties, characteristics, and uses of this chemical element. So, fasten your seat belt and let’s journey through the world of Americium.

Properties and

Characteristics of Americium

Americium (Am) is a synthetic element with atomic number 95. Its CAS number is 7440-35-9, and its relative atomic mass is 243.

Its molar mass is approximately 243 g/mol. Americium is a silvery-white metallic element, but it tarnishes easily in air.

The melting point of Americium is 994C, and its boiling point is 2,600C. It is a solid at room temperature, and its density is approximately 13.67 g/cm.

Americium is a radioactive element, and it exhibits metallic properties. It’s also an electrically conductive and thermally conductive element.

Other key properties of Americium include:

– Specific heat = 62.7 J/(molK)

– Bulk modulus = 47 GPa

– Shear modulus = 22 GPa

– Young’s modulus = 46 GPa

– Vapor pressure = negligible

Chemical Properties

Americium has a range of oxidation states, including +2, +3, +4, +5, and +6. The most common oxidation state is +3.

In terms of isotopes, there are 20 known isotopes of Americium, ranging from Am-231 to Am-250.

Americium Identification

Americium belongs to the actinide series of elements found in the periodic table. It sits below curium and above plutonium.

It is part of the group of radioactive elements known as transuranium elements.

Where is Americium Found?

Americium is a man-made element that does not occur naturally in the environment. It is produced within nuclear reactors by bombarding plutonium with neutrons.

Americium is also produced as a by-product of nuclear weapons testing.


The discovery of Americium is credited to a team of scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, led by Glenn T. Seaborg, Ralph A.

James, Leon O. Morgan and Albert Ghiorso.

The team synthesized Americium in 1944, using the cyclotron at Berkeley.

The team named the element “Americium” in honor of their country, the United States of America.

Seaborg and his team made significant contributions to the discovery and understanding of radioactive elements, which led to Seaborg’s eventual recognition with a Nobel Prize.

Uses of Americium

Americium has a range of industrial, medical, and scientific applications.

Smoke detectors and alarms: Smoke detectors and alarms use Americium-241 to detect smoke particles.

Americium-241 produces alpha particles that ionize the air, causing a small electrical current in the detector’s chamber. This current is broken when it encounters smoke particles, triggering the alarm.

Deep space vehicles: Americium-241 is used in devices that power deep space probes. These devices generate heat using the decay of Americium-241, which is then converted into electricity.

Industrial and medical applications: Americium-241 is used in a range of industrial and medical applications, including radiography, nuclear gauges, and bone density measurements.

Toxicity of Americium

Americium is a radioactive element that poses significant health risks. It emits ionizing radiation, which can damage and kill living cells.

Exposure to Americium can lead to radiation sickness, cancer, and other severe health effects.


In conclusion, Americium is a fascinating element with a range of unique properties and characteristics. While it has limited practical applications, it is essential in some critical areas such as nuclear technology.

The discovery of Americium showcases the power of scientific progress and reminds us of the importance of scientific knowledge in shaping the world around us. In addition to its properties, characteristics and uses, there are many interesting facts about Americium that are worth exploring.

From its unique chemical and physical properties to its price range on the market, we’ll dive into some intriguing aspects of this element.

Characteristics of Americium

One of the most unique characteristics of Americium is its radioactive nature. Although it occurs in small quantities in nuclear reactors, it is primarily produced synthetically in laboratories through the decay of plutonium-241.

Americium is a highly alpha-emitting element, which means that it emits positively charged particles with high energies. It also emits gamma rays, which are high-energy electromagnetic radiation.

Gamma rays are dangerous because they can pass through living tissue and cause damage directly to cells’ DNA. Another interesting characteristic of Americium is its metallic nature.

Americium is a solid element at room temperature that has a silvery-white appearance and is highly reactive. It tarnishes quickly when exposed to air.

Americium is also a conductor of electricity and heat, which makes it useful in many of its applications.

Cost of Americium

Because Americium is a radioactive synthetic element, it is quite expensive compared to other materials. In fact, Americium is one of the most expensive and rarest elements on Earth.

In 2021, the price of Americium was roughly $1,500 per gram. The high price of Americium is primarily due to the difficulty and cost associated with its production and the regulatory requirements for its handling.

The primary commercial sources of Americium are nuclear reactors, where it is produced as a byproduct of plutonium. It is also produced through particle accelerators, which are expensive and require specialized equipment, making it a costly process.

Interest in Americium has remained high because of its potential use in various technologies. These tech areas include smoke detectors, space probes, and other industrial and medical applications.

There are also ongoing research efforts to explore the use of Americium in new emerging technologies such as cancer treatments and radiation therapies.


The unique properties and characteristics of Americium make it a fascinating element to study. From its radioactivity to its metallic nature, there is much to learn about this rare and valuable element.

While its cost may be high due to its rarity and the difficulty of producing it, Americium’s potential applications make it a valuable addition to many emerging technologies. As research continues, it’s likely that we’ll discover even more exciting applications of Americium in the future.

In summary, Americium is a fascinating synthetic element with unique chemical and physical properties, including its radioactive and metallic nature. It has a range of applications in smoke detectors, space probes, industry, and medicine.

However, due to its rarity and difficulty in production, Americium is one of the costliest elements. Considering its potential applications in emerging technologies, ongoing research into its properties is vital.


Q: What is Americium used for? A: Americium is primarily used in smoke detectors and alarms, deep space vehicles, industrial and medical applications.

Q: Is Americium radioactive? A: Yes, Americium is a radioactive element that emits alpha particles and gamma rays.

Q: How is Americium produced? A: Americium is primarily produced synthetically in laboratories through the decay of plutonium-241.

Q: What is the cost of Americium? A: The cost of Americium is relatively high, ranging from approximately $1,500 per gram in 2021.

Q: Is Americium dangerous? A: Americium is potentially hazardous and can cause radiation sickness and cancer if not handled properly.

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