All 16 known isotopes are radioactive. Americium-243, the most stable isotope, has a half-life of more than 7,300 years. Americium-241, which has a half-life of about 430 years, is more often used in chemical investigations, since it is easily prepared in a fairly pure form; it is also used in industrial measuring devices, radiology, and household smoke detectors.
The fourth transuranium elementto be synthesized, americium is a member of the actinide series in Group 3 of the periodic table. It was discovered in 1944 by Glenn T. Seaborg, Ralph A. James, Leon O. Morgan, and Albert Ghiorso, who bombarded plutonium-239 with neutrons to form plutonium-241, which decays to form americium-241.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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