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General Info
Atomic Symbol Atomic symbol::Bk
Atomic Number Atomic number::97
Atomic Weight Atomic weight::247 g/mol
Chemical series Actinide
Appearance Silvery
Group, Period, Block Inner Transition, 7, f-block
Electron configuration [Rn]5f9 7s2
Electrons per shell 2,8,18,32,27,8,2

Electron shell berkelium.png

CAS number CAS number::7440-40-6
Physical properties
Phase Solid
Density Density::14.79 g/cm3 g/ml
Melting point Melting point::1806.8 °F
Boiling point Boiling point::5252 °F
Isotopes of Berkelium
iso NA half-life DT DE (MeV) DP
is stable with neutrons.
245Bk syn
All properties are for STP unless otherwise stated.

Berkelium is a chemical element in the actinide series that has an atomic number of 97. It is known for creating other elements by scientists in laboratories. This element was manufactured by Stan Thomson, Al Ghiroso and Glen Seaborg by bombarding Americium-241 with alpha particles. The fact that the element is extremely rare limits the amount of uses Berkelium has. It is found in the skeletal system but it highly radio active. Berkelium is the eighth member of the actinide transition series.[1]


Berkelium-249 in the tip of this vial was very important to the experiment that lead to the discovery of Berkelium.

Most of Berkelium's properties are listed in the table on the right side of this page and not many more properties are known about the element Berkelium. The metallic state of Berkelium has not been created yet, but it should be silver-colored, electropositive and reactive like the other actinoid metals.[2] Also, the metal Berkelium is attacked by the gas Oxygen, steam and acids, but not by alkalis. [3] Berkelium is a man made radioactive metal with the electronegativity of 1.3.[4] 249Bk that has a half-life of 314 days, makes it possible to separate Berkelium in a reasonable amount so further inspection can occur. As of now, Berkelium hasn't been made in elemental form, but is expected to be easily dissolved in watered down mineral acids, also to portray a silvery color, and to be tarnished by oxygen at high temperatures to create the oxide. Berkelium chloride was one of the very first Berkelium compound, it was created in the year of 1962. It weighed 1 billionth of a gram.[5] The very first isotope of Berkelium that was created decayed with a half-life of 4.5 hours obtained a mass of 243 grams. Ten isotopes have been synthesized as of today.[5]


A news article announcing the discovery of Berkelium.

Berkelium has no naturally occurring isotopes, but the longest living isotope created is 247Bk with a half –life of 1380 years. Berkelium in created in minuscule amounts in nuclear reactors like the High Flux Isotope Reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.[6] Also, this man- made element does not occur in nature because of it’s instability. The element is made by nuclear fusion and the lightweight isotopes are created by charged particle bombardment but the heavyweight isotopes by neutron irradiation of bulky quantities of curium, plutonium or americium.[3] Berkelium is also found in the remaining pieces of nuclear bombs and is present in the skeletal system.[7] This element was discovered in December 1949 by Stan Thomson, Albert Ghiorso, and Glenn Seaborg.[2] It was synthesized by Cyclotron bombardment of milligram amounts of Americium-241 with alpha particles (helium nuclei) at the Berkeley Radiation Laboratory. This element also possesses compounds. Berkelium chloride, the very first compound, was made in 1962.[8]


This illustration is an example of how the element Berkelium is used to create many other elements.

Berkelium is very radioactive and can only be found in diminutive amounts, therefore it has very few uses.[9] 249Bk has been used mainly as a target material for the making of still-heavier actinide and transactinide elements.[6] The isotopes of Berkelium have made it possible to create to the primary six atoms of the element ununseptium after being attacked with calcium ions for about 150 days in the U400 cyclotron.[10] Berkelium is mainly just used in laboratories to create many other elements that can be used for various uses. Berkelium only exists in extremely small amounts, therefore is has no commercial uses.[11]


This element is extremely rare and involved in various compounds. Berkelium Oxide (BkO), Berkelium Iodide (BkI3), Berkelium Fluoride (BkF3), and Berkelium Bromide (BkBr3) are the common compounds of Berkelium. Scientists used X-ray diffraction methods to discover different Berkelium compounds.[12]. Some other compounds of Berkelium are Berkelium trifluoride (BkF3), Berkelium tetrafluoride (BkF4), Berkelium triiodide (BkI3), Berkelium dioxide (BkO2), and Diberkelium trioxide (Bk2O3).[13] During the year of 1962, some Berkelium Chloride (BkCl3) was separated that weighed 3 billionths of a gram. It was during this time that some of the first berkelium compounds were produced.[14]. The compounds of Berkelium have really no application besides being used for scientific research. The compounds are usually divided into different categories like oxides, halides, organometallic and inorganic compounds.[15]. A number of Berkelium compounds have been created. Experiments of Berkelium have been relatively easy many experienced scientists have examined it’s characteristics. X-ray diffraction techniques have been used to identify various berkelium compounds and the oxidation numbers observed as of today are +3 and +4 in agreement to its position in the periodic table. Some time during the year of 1962 Berkelium chloride was made and was the very first Berkelium compound that was ever made.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Scerri, Eric. Chemistry in it's elements- Berkelium RSC. Web. November 17, 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Carr, Nicholas. Berkelium. Encyclopedia Britannica. Web. October 31, 2011.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Unknown Author. The Element Berkelium. Periodic Table. Web. October 31, 2011.
  4. Barbalace, Kenneth. Element Berkelium-Bk. Environmental Chemistry. Web. October 31, 2011.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Unknown Author. Berkelium- Bk Lenntech. Web. November 17, 2011.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Hsu., David. Berkelium Element Facts. Chemicool. Web. June 01, 2011.
  7. Hobart, David. Berkelium. Periodic Table of Elements. Web. October 31, 2011.
  8. Mr. Everett. Berkelium. Mr.Everett's Web Page. Web. October 31, 2011.
  9. Winter, Mark. Berkelium: uses WebElements: the periodic table on the web. Web. November 12, 2011.
  10. Greenwood, Norman N. Berkelium. Wikipedia. Web. October 31, 2011 (or access).
  11. Yarnell, Amanda. Berkelium ACS Publications. Web. November 17, 2011.
  12. Unknown Author. Berkelium. The Periodic Table (K-12). Web. November 3, 2011.
  13. Winter, Mark. Berkelium compounds WebElements: the periodic table on the web. Web. November 12, 2011.
  14. Hwan Kway, Chung. Berkelium. New World Encyclopedia. Web. November 3, 2011.
  15. Unknown Author. Berkelium. Elements Database Periodic Table. Web. November 3, 2011.