Californium

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Californium (play /ˌkælɪˈfɔrniəm/ KAL-ə-FOR-nee-əm) is a synthetic radioactive metallic chemical element in the actinide series with the symbol Cf and atomic number 98. The element was first produced in 1950 by bombarding curium with alpha particles (helium ions) at the University of California, Berkeley. It was the sixth transuranium element to be synthesized and is one of highest atomic mass elements to be produced in weighable amounts. The element was named for California and the University of California.

Californium 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 is employed as a source of neutrons when studying materials with neutron diffraction and neutron spectroscopy. Element 118 was synthesized by bombarding californium-249 atoms with calcium-48 ions.

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