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What is Actinium?

Actinium is a rare and radioactive element, with properties that make it a beacon in nuclear science and cancer treatment research. Its potent radioactivity powers targeted therapies, offering hope in the fight against disease. Intrigued by Actinium's potential? Join us as we unveil the mysteries and promises of this extraordinary element. What could its future in medicine hold for us?
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Actinium is a radioactive chemical element which is found in trace amounts in uranium ore. This element has a relatively short half life, and it is so radioactive that it has few industrial uses. The primary use for actinium is in scientific research. Consumers should rarely, if ever, interact with this element, which is just as well since it is extremely dangerous in the hands of people who are not experienced in handling radioactive materials.

When this element is isolated, it proves to be a silvery color, and it will glow blue in the dark due to its radioactivity. The element shares a number of chemical properties with lanthanum, and the radioactivity makes it naturally extremely toxic. Actinium also produces a number of isotopes which have some research applications as well. On the periodic table of elements, you can find actinium by looking for the symbol Ac, and the element's atomic number is 89.

On the periodic table of elements, actinium is identified by the symbol Ac, and the atomic number is 89.
On the periodic table of elements, actinium is identified by the symbol Ac, and the atomic number is 89.

Credit for the discovery of actinium is typically given to Andre Debierne, a French chemist who isolated it from a uranium ore in 1899. Around the same time, radium and polonium were also isolated from uranium ore by Marie and Pierre Curie, showing that uranium held a few well guarded secrets. The name of the element is taken from the Greek aktin, which means “ray,” a reference to its radioactivity.

Personal protective equipment should be worn by those who work with actinium.
Personal protective equipment should be worn by those who work with actinium.

The primary users of actinium are scientific researchers, who utilize it as a source of neutrons in nuclear research. An isotope of actinium can also be used to bombard bismuth to produce some interesting reactions, and this isotope is also used in nuclear medicine. In addition to being found naturally, the element can also be produced synthetically, as was proved in 2000, when Australian researchers used a linear accelerator to produce a synthetic version.

Areas where actinium is used must be well-marked and require strict safety protocols.
Areas where actinium is used must be well-marked and require strict safety protocols.

Like other radioactive elements, actinuim is toxic, and it should be handled with care. Exposure to relatively small amounts can be very dangerous, and it should not be ingested. Researchers who work with the element typically use protective measures and monitor their radiation exposure to avoid levels which could cause radiation sickness or long term damage.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a AllTheScience researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a AllTheScience researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...

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Discussion Comments

anon274485

What are the uses of actinium? Please answer my question ASAP.

anon118051

does it have any uses besides Thermoelectric power?

anon116498

What are its uses?

anon111576

does this element glow blue?

anon83339

it was discovered by Andre Debierne in 1899.

anon79315

it wasn't found. it was discovered.

anon44911

who found the element actinium?

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    • On the periodic table of elements, actinium is identified by the symbol Ac, and the atomic number is 89.
      By: jelena zaric
      On the periodic table of elements, actinium is identified by the symbol Ac, and the atomic number is 89.
    • Personal protective equipment should be worn by those who work with actinium.
      By: Destonian
      Personal protective equipment should be worn by those who work with actinium.
    • Areas where actinium is used must be well-marked and require strict safety protocols.
      By: Alvaro German Vilela
      Areas where actinium is used must be well-marked and require strict safety protocols.