“Element 96” was synthesised by bombarding plutonium 239 with alpha particles to produce curium242 and curium 240: Element 96 And Compositions Thereof (1964).
Later, other curium isotopes were synthesised:
- Curium 238: Isotope Of Curium Having A Mass Number Of 238 (1954),
- Curium 243: Production Of Curium 243 (1956), and
- Curium 245: Production Of Curium 245 (1959).
Large scale production of curium was achieved by chemical processing of fission products: Large Scale Method For The Production And Purification Of Curium (1959).
One of the biggest challenges seems to be the separation of curium from americium (Separation Of Curium And Americium (1962)), and many patent applications have been filed for inventions addressing this problem.
Applications of curium include:
- a lightning conductor: Radioactive Lightning Conductor – Where Air Streams Are Deflected Past Ionising Sources Such As Curium So Conductor Bar Is Surrounded By Ionised Air (1982),
- rocket thrusters: Heated Gas Intermittent Thrustor Or Rocket Engine (1965), and
- space power supplies: Very High Efficiency, Miniaturized, Long-Lived Alpha Particle Power Source Using Diamond Devices For Extreme Space Environments. (2004).