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Physical Properties

Atomic Mass: 251amu

Atomic Radius: 245 pm

Density: 15.1 g/cc

Melting Point: 900 Degrees Celsius

Boiling Point: 1470 Degrees Celsius

Room Temperature: solid

Appearance: Shiny, hard, silver

Other: Radioactive Metal (all isotopes)

Chemical Properties

From The Merck Index "Slowly oxidized in air at room temp...reacts when heated with nitrogen, hydrogen or a halogen. Reacts rapidly with dry hydrogen halides and with aq mineral acids."
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Identification (Bottom of the Periodic Table)

Atomic Number: 98

Mass Number: 251

Protons: 98

Neutrons: 152

Electrons: 98

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Californium was produced in 1950 at Berkeley, California. > The team was Stanley Thompson, Kenneth Street Jr., Albert Chiorso, and Glenn Seaborg. The way it was produced was by firing helium nuclei at curium-242. It yielded the isotope Californium-245. The half life of Cf-245 is 44 minutes. Cf-251 is the longest lived isotope with a half life of 900 years. The most useful isotope is Cf-252 which has a half life of a little more than 2 and a half years.
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It is a strong neutron emitter so it is used in portable metal detectors to find gold and silver ores. Two important isotopes are 249Cf and 252Cf. 252Cf is used to follow ground water movement. There are 20 isotopes all together. An important compound is californium borate. This may be useful in handling nuclear waste.

Californium is used to help start nuclear reactions in nuclear reactors.

It is used in special detectors to find damage in airplanes or explosives.

Also, it is used in medicine to treat certain cancers.

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Fun Facts

The name of the element is Californium because it was named for California, the University and state it was created in.
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98 [Cf] Californium


"Californium." Periodic Table. Royal Society of Chemistry, 1 Jan. 2015. Web. 21 Dec. 2015. <>.

"Element Californium - Cf." N.p., 1 Jan. 2015. Web. 19 Dec. 2015. <>.

Tompson, S. G., et al. "The New Element Californium (Atomic Number 98)." UCRL. N.p.: n.p., 1950. Microform.

King, Anthony. "Californium Compound Springs Bonding Surprise."
Chemistryworld. N.p., 23 Mar. 2014. Web. 4 Jan. 2016.

Osborne-Lee, Irvin W., and C. W. Alexander. "Californium-252: A Remarkable
Versatile Radioisotope." ORNL 10 Oct. 1995: 5. Print.

Element Card: Gray, Theodore W. (2008). The Photographic Card Deck of the Elements.

Elements Book: Gray, Theodore W. (2009). The Elements: A visual exploration of every known atom in the universe. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc.


The Merck Index: Fifteenth Edition 2013, Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry