Berkelium Element Properties

Berkelium is a transuranic radioactive chemical element with the symbol Bk and atomic number 97. Not occurring in nature, It was discovered in December 1949 by American chemists Stanley G. Thompson, Albert Ghiorso, and Glenn T. Seaborg at the University of California, Berkeley, as a product resulting from the helium-ion (alpha-particle) bombardment of americium-241 (atomic number 95) in a 152-cm (60-inch) cyclotron. The element was named after the city of Berkeley, where it was discovered.

Berkelium Element Properties
Symbol Bk
Atomic Number 97
Atomic Mass 247 amu
Discovered by Stanley Thompson, Albert Ghiorso, and Glenn Seaborg in 1949
Melting point 986°C, 1807°F, 1259 K

All berkelium isotopes are radioactive; berkelium-247 is the longest-lived (1,400-year half-life). Berkelium-249 (314-day half-life) has been widely used in the chemical studies of the element because it can be produced in weighable amounts that are isotopically pure by nuclear reactions beginning with curium-244.

Properties of Berkelium

  • It is a soft, silvery-white, radioactive metal.
  • The element’s mass numbers range from 235 to 254 and about twenty isotopes.
  • The element showcases isomerism wherein six nuclear isomers of the element have been characterized.
  • Every isotope of the element is radioactive.


Uses of Bk

    • Presently, the element is not used biologically or for technological purposes.
    • It was used for the atmospheric nuclear weapons tests between 1945 and 1980.
    • Its isotopes are used for basic scientific research.

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