Curium: the essentials

Curium is a hard, brittle, radioactive silvery metal. It does not occur in nature and must be made in a nuclear reactor by neutron capture reactions from plutonium and americium isotopes. It tarnishes slowly in dry air at room temperature. Curium was first produced in 1944 at the University of California, Berkeley in the USA in a cyclotron by bombarding plutonium-239 (239Pu) with α-particles. It was isolated in visible quantities as the hydroxide, Cm(OH)3, in 1947.

Most compounds of Cm(III) are faintly yellow. If curium enters the body it accumulates in the bones, and is therefore very toxic as its radiation destroys the red-cell forming mechanism. Curium is a radioactive rare earth metal. The most stable isotope is 247Cm which has a half-life of 16 million years. Curium is probably present in uranium ores. It has a few specialised uses but only a few of its compounds are known.

Curium: historical information

Curium was discovered by Glenn T. Seaborg, Ralph A. James, Albert Ghiorso in 1944 at USA. Origin of name: named after Pierre and Marie "Curie".

Curium was identified by Seaborg and others in 1944 as a result of helium ion bombardment of the plutonium isotope 239Pu. Three years later visible amounts of the hydroxide were isolated by Werner and Perlman. In 1951, the same workers prepared curium in its elemental form for the first time.

Curium around us Read more »

Curium has no biological role.

Curium is radioactive but is not present in the geosphere in any significant quantity.

Abundances for curium in a number of different environments. More abundance data »
Location ppb by weight ppb by atoms Links
Universe (no data) (no data) Chemical elements abundance by weight in the universe on a miniature periodic table spark table
Crustal rocks (no data) (no data) Chemical elements abundance by weight in the earth's crust on a miniature periodic table spark table
Human (no data) ppb by weight (no data) atoms relative to C = 1000000 Chemical elements abundance by weight in humans on a miniature periodic table spark table

Physical properties Read more »

Heat properties Read more »

Crystal structure Read more »

The solid state structure of curium is: hcp (hexagonal close-packed).

Curium: orbital properties Read more »

Curium atoms have 96 electrons and the shell structure is The ground state electronic configuration of neutral Curium is [Rn].5f7.6d1.7s2 and the term symbol of Curium is 9D2.


Isolation: coming soon!

Curium isotopes Read more »

Table. Stables isotopes of curium.
Isotope Mass
(atom %)
spin (I)
moment (μ/μN)

WebElements chemistry shop

You can buy periodic table posters, mugs, T-shirts, periodic table fridge magnets, games, molecular models, and more at the WebElements periodic table shop