Curium is an actinide element which was first identified by Seaborg, James and Ghiorso in 1944 as a result of helium-ion bombardment of 239Pu. In 1947 visible amounts of 242Cm in the form of hydroxide were isolated by Werner and Perlman. It was not until 1951 that Crane, Wallmann and Cunningham isolated curium in its elemental form. Fourteen isotopes are known. The most stable of which is 247Cm with a half-life of 16 million years. The presence of natural curium has never been detected.
Curium is silver in colour, is chemically reactive and is more electropositive than aluminium.
Curium 242Cm, generates about three thermal watts of energy per gram, this compares to one-half thermal watt per gram of 238Pu.
It is toxic to humans as it gathers in bones, and destroys the body’s ability to produce red blood cells.