What is Californium and Its Uses?

What is Californium and Its Uses?

Californium was first discovered in 1950 by four scientists; Stanley Thompson, Albert Ghiorso, Glen Seaborg and Kenneth Street, Jr. Californium is an isotope element found in the periodic table, its number 7, created by a combination of Curium and Helium Atoms. The first time Californium was produced, it was done so by a Cyclotron, a machine used to accelerate charged particles to produce high energy. The radioactive metal has an atomic weight of 251, and atomic number of 98.  When Californium was created in the Cyclotron, it gave out the production of Californium-245, isotopes which could live up to 45 minutes. Californium- 252 is another isotope, but with a higher half life of up to 2.6 years. 

It has been used, Californium 252 to help in the identification of dug up gold and silver ores, as well as it is used to discover water and oil layers in oil wells. It is also used as a way to identify weak metals in airplanes, highly important for the airplane structures safety. 

Californium-251, the most stable of its isotopes and found in the periodic table of elements. Californium-251 has a half life of 898 years. It has a melting point of 900 Degrees Celsius and an unknown boiling point. At room temperature, Californium is a solid, although the density is recorded as unidentified. It is radioactive, and is an Actinide, which are fifteen metallic elements all radioactive. These elements, including Californium, were all produced artificially, meaning they were never discovered naturally, although they were recorded by scientists in the periodic table. 

The toxic element got its name after the university where it was first discovered, the university of Berkeley, located in California, hence the name, Californium. With a unique name comes a unique meaning, Californium possesses a symbol with a Grizzly bear, the state flag of California, it represents great strength. The four scientists that discovered it initially struggled in the beginning for 3 years to collect the necessary ingredient, Curium. The interesting part about this is that it took them that long to collect only a few little milligrams. 

Californium is a silver substance; it can be highly notorious, as it’s known to create nuclear weapons, not as dangerous as plutonium, but just 5 kilograms of californium can be destructive on a heavy level. 

Uses of californium 

The importance of californium 252 comes from being an effective source of neutrons. Thus it can be used in the industries of building oil wells. It is part of the neutron moisture meters used in exploring the Earth’s layers that contain oil or water, and it is also used effectively in the process of discovering gold and silver ores through the immediate analysis process that relies on the neutron activation system by taking advantage of californium neutrons. 

In addition to the above, californium is used in the treatment of certain types of cancers in which other radiation treatments have less effect.

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