What is AM-241 used for?

What is AM-241 used for? Americium-241 is used as a neutron source in non-destructive testing of machinery and equipment, and as a thickness gauge in the glass industry. However, its most common application is as

What is AM-241 used for?

Americium-241 is used as a neutron source in non-destructive testing of machinery and equipment, and as a thickness gauge in the glass industry. However, its most common application is as an ionization source in smoke detectors, and most of the several kilograms of americium made each year are used in this way.

How many neutrons does americium-241 have?


Neutrons 146
Nuclide data
Natural abundance 0 (synthetic)
Half-life 432.2 years

What isotope is produced when the nucleus of an 241 95 AM atom releases an alpha particle?

Radioisotopes in the home Americium-241 emits alpha particles and low energy gamma rays. The alpha particles emitted by the Am-241 collide with the oxygen and nitrogen in air within the detector’s ionization chamber to produce charged particles (ions).

Is Am-241 a gamma emitter?

Am-241 is primarily an alpha emitter, but also emits some gamma rays. Americium can stay in the body for decades and continue to expose the surrounding tissues to radiation, increasing the risk of developing cancer.

Why is AM 241 used in smoke alarms?

Ionization smoke detectors use americium as a source of alpha particles. Alpha particles from the americium source ionize air molecules. This makes some particles positively charged and some negatively charged. Because of this shielding, the smoke detector poses no radiation health risk when they are properly handled.

Is it legal to own americium?

Americium is the only man-made element which is legal to posses, and the amazing part is that you can buy it for less than $10 at any hardware store.

What is S Half-Life?

Half-life, in radioactivity, the interval of time required for one-half of the atomic nuclei of a radioactive sample to decay (change spontaneously into other nuclear species by emitting particles and energy), or, equivalently, the time interval required for the number of disintegrations per second of a radioactive …

Can fire detector detect light?

Optical smoke detectors are light sensors. When smoke enters the optical chamber into the path of the light beam, some light is scattered by the smoke particles, and some of the scattered light is detected by the sensor.

How is americium used today?

Americium is a silvery, shiny radioactive metal. Americium is commonly used in smoke alarms, but has few other uses. It has the potential to be used in spacecraft batteries in the future. Currently plutonium is used but availability is poor so alternatives are being considered.

Is americium-241 unstable?

Americium-241 is an unstable isotope. Therefore, as americium decays, it releases radiation and forms “daughter” elements. The first decay product of americium- 241 is neptunium-237, which also decays and forms other daughter elements. The decay process continues until the stable element bismuth is formed.

Where is Am 241 found in the environment?

Am-241 found in the environment is in the form of microscopic dust. Am-241 used in industrial, medical, or commercial devices is in the form of coin-sized metal or plastic discs. The Am-241 source present in a smoke detector is inside a metal cylinder that is about the size of a pencil erasure.

What can Am 241 be used for in medical devices?

Am-241 is used in some medical diagnostic devices and in a variety of industrial and commercial devices that measure density and thickness. Tiny Am-241 sources are also present in smoke detectors.

What kind of neutrons can be produced from 241 Am?

Oxides of 241 Am pressed with beryllium can be very efficient neutron sources, since they emit alpha particles during radioactive decay : Here americium acts as the alpha source, and beryllium produces neutrons owing to its large cross-section for the (α,n) nuclear reaction:

How is americium-241 produced in a nuclear reactor?

Americium-241 is not synthesized directly from uranium – the most common reactor material – but from the plutonium isotope 239 Pu. The latter needs to be produced first, according to the following nuclear process: The capture of two neutrons by 239 Pu (a so-called (n,γ) reaction), followed by a β-decay, results in 241 Am: