Americium is a human-made actinide element with the symbol Am and atomic number 95. It is a transuranic member of the actinide series, in the periodic table located under the lanthanide element europium, and thus by analogy was named after the Americas.
|Discovered by||Glenn Seaborg and colleagues.|
|electron configuration||[Rn]5f 77s2|
Americium was first produced in 1944 by the group of Glenn T. Seaborg from Berkeley, California, at the Metallurgical Laboratory of the University of Chicago, a part of the Manhattan Project. Although it is the third element in the transuranic series, it was discovered fourth, after the heavier curium. The discovery was kept secret and only released to the public in November 1945.
Americium Chemical Properties
- Am metal readily reacts with oxygen and dissolves in aqueous acids. The most stable oxidation state for americium is +3.
- It is a highly radioactive element. When freshly prepared, it has a silvery-white metallic luster, but then slowly tarnishes in air.
- The chemistry of americium(III) has many similarities to the chemistry of lanthanide(III) compounds.
- In the periodic table, It is located to the right of plutonium, to the left of curium, and below the lanthanide europium, with which it shares many similarities in physical and chemical properties.
Uses of Am
- Americium-241 has been used industrially in fluid-density gauges, thickness gauges, aircraft fuel gauges, and distance-sensing devices, all of which use its gamma radiation.
- It plays a part in nuclear power production as a decay product.
- Due to the scarcity of Plutonium to make spacecraft batteries, It can serve as a viable replacement in the forthcoming years.
- Most Am is produced by uranium or plutonium being bombarded with neutrons in nuclear reactors – one tonne of spent nuclear fuel contains about 100 grams of Am.