Science Education Home Home Teachers Students Games Videos VA SOL Programs

It's Elemental

The Element Nobelium

[Click for Isotope Data]


102 No Nobelium 259

Atomic Number: 102

Atomic Weight: 259

Melting Point: 1100 K (827°C or 1520°F)

Boiling Point: Unknown

Density: Unknown

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 scientist Alfred Nobel.

Say what? Nobelium is pronounced as no-BELL-ee-em.

History and Uses:

In 1957, a group of scientists working at the Nobel Institute of Physics in Stockhlom, Sweden, announced the discovery of a new element. They produced this new element, which they named nobelium, by bombarding a target of curium-244 with ions of carbon-13 with a device called a cyclotron. The isotope they created had a half-life of 10 minutes. In 1958, another group of scientists, Albert Ghiorso, Glenn T. Seaborg, Torbørn Sikkeland and John R. Walton, working at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory in Berkeley, California, attempted to confirm the Nobel Institute's discovery. They were unable to produce any isotope of nobelium with a half-life of 10 minutes, but were able to produce nobelium-254, with a half-life of three seconds, by bombarding curium-246 with carbon-12. A third group, working at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia, also could not duplicate the Nobel Institute's work but were able to confirm the Berkeley group's work. Credit for discovering nobelium was eventually given to the scientists working at Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, who decided to keep the name nobelium. Today, the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory is known as the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory.

Nobelium's most stable isotope, nobelium-259, has a half-life of about 58 minutes. It decays into fermium-255 through alpha decay, into mendelevium-259 through electron capture or through spontaneous fission.

Since only tiny amounts of nobelium have ever been produced, there are currently no uses for it outside of basic scientific research.

Estimated Crustal Abundance: Not Applicable

Estimated Oceanic Abundance: Not Applicable

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

Ionization Energy: 6.65 eV

Oxidation States: +3, +2

Electron Shell Configuration:


2s2   2p6

3s2   3p6   3d10

4s2   4p6   4d10   4f14

5s2   5p6   5d10   5f14

6s2   6p6


Citation and linking information

For questions about this page, please contact Steve Gagnon.