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It's Elemental

The Element Curium

[Click for Isotope Data]


96 Cm Curium 247

Atomic Number: 96

Atomic Weight: 247

Melting Point: 1618 K (1345°C or 2453°F)

Boiling Point: ~3400 K (~3100°C or ~5600°F)

Density: 13.51 grams per cubic centimeter

Phase at Room Temperature: Solid

Element Classification: Metal

Period Number: 7

Group Number: none

Group Name: Actinide

Special Notes: Radioactive and Artificially Produced

What's in a name? Named after the scientists Pierre and Marie Curie.

Say what? Curium is pronounced as KYOOR-ee-em.

History and Uses:

Curium was first produced by Glenn T. Seaborg, Ralph A. James and Albert Ghiorso, working at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1944. They bombarded atoms of plutonium-239, an isotope of plutonium, with alpha particles that had been accelerated in a device called a cyclotron. This produced atoms of curium-242 and one free neutron. Curium-242 has a half-life of about 163 days and decays into plutonium-238 through alpha decay or decays through spontaneous fission.

Curium's most stable isotope, curium-247, has a half-life of about 15,600,000 years. It decays into plutonium-243 through alpha decay.

Since only milligram amounts of curium have ever been produced, there are currently no commercial applications for it, although it might be used in radioisotope thermoelectric generators in the future. Curium is primarily used for basic scientific research.

Scientists have produced several curium compounds. They include: curium dioxide (CmO2), curium trioxide (Cm2O3), curium bromide (CmBr3), curium chloride (CmCl3), curium chloride (CmCl3), curium tetrafluoride (CmF4) and curium iodide (CmI3). As with the element, the compounds currently have no commercial applications and are primarily used for basic scientific research.

Estimated Crustal Abundance: Not Applicable

Estimated Oceanic Abundance: Not Applicable

Number of Stable Isotopes: 0 (View all isotope data)

Ionization Energy: 6.02 eV

Oxidation States: +3

Electron Shell Configuration:


2s2   2p6

3s2   3p6   3d10

4s2   4p6   4d10   4f14

5s2   5p6   5d10   5f7

6s2   6p6   6d1


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For questions about this page, please contact Steve Gagnon.