Curium

Atomic number: 96

Symbol: Cm

Category: actinide 

Density at 25°C: solid: density: 13.51 g·cm−3

This radioactive element was created in 1944 and named after Marie Skłodowska-Curie and her husband Pierre Curie to honour their work in radioactivity. This element is mainly used in scientific research as an alpha particle source for spacecraft. 

Curium  metal glows purple due to its intense radiation. image: adapted from wikipedia


Use, natural applications or common combinations: 

  •  α-particle source in the alpha particle X-ray spectrometers (APXS).
  • potential use 242Cm is to produce 238Pu, a more suitable  for thermoelectric generators that could be used in heart pacemakers.
  • Cm is a common starting material for producing  higher transuranic elements and transactinides


Basic characteristics:

  • Standard atomic weight: (247)
  • Melting point: 1340 °C
  • Boiling point:  3110 °C
  • Radioactivity: all radioactive
    • 242Cm with half life of 160 days
    • 244Cm with half-life of 18.1  years producing alpha particles