Californium is a radioactive chemical element with the symbol Cf and atomic number 98. The element was first synthesized in 1950 at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (then the University of California Radiation Laboratory), by bombarding curium with alpha particles (helium-4 ions). It is an actinide element, the sixth transuranium element to be synthesized, and has the second-highest atomic mass of all the elements that have been produced in amounts large enough to see with the unaided eye (after einsteinium). The element was named after the university and the state of California.
|Atomic Mass||251 g.mol -1|
|Electron configuration||[Rn]5f 107s2|
It is one of the few transuranium elements that have practical applications. Most of these applications exploit the property of certain isotopes of californium to emit neutrons. For example, californium can be used to help start-up nuclear reactors, and it is employed as a source of neutrons when studying materials using neutron diffraction and neutron spectroscopy. Californium can also be used in the nuclear synthesis of higher mass elements; Users of californium must take into account radiological concerns and the element’s ability to disrupt the formation of red blood cells by bioaccumulating in skeletal tissue.
Properties of Californium
- The element is available in two forms under normal pressure and a third form is at high pressure.
- It tarnishes gradually when exposed to air and readily attacked by steam, acids. Cf (III) is the only stable ion in aqueous solutions and cannot be oxidized or reduced.
- Many compounds exhibit different kinds of properties, for example, Cf – 252 is a very strong emitter of neutrons.
- It is the heaviest actinide that shows covalent properties similar to californium borate.
- The element is not available naturally on Earth. It can be found in the vicinity of nuclear facilities and research laboratories as it is used in medical diagnosis and mineral prospecting.