Medical Definition of Americium

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Reviewed on 9/7/2018

Americium: Symbol: Am. A man-made metallic element whose isotopes Am-237 through Am-246 are all radioactive. Americium must be handled with great care to avoid personal contamination. Trace quantities of americium are widely used in smoke detectors. It is also used in bone mineral analysis and as a radiation source for radiotherapy.

Americium was discovered in 1944 at the wartime metallurgical laboratory at the University of Chicago as the result of successive neutron capture reactions by plutonium isotopes in a nuclear reactor.

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Reviewed on 9/7/2018