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Synthetic radioactive chemical element, chemical symbol Am, atomic number 95. The fourth transuranium element discovered, it was first produced in 1944 from plutonium-239 in a nuclear reactor. The isotope americium-241 has been prepared in kilogram quantities and is used in a variety of measuring applications that utilize its gamma radiation. Its most familiar use is in household smoke detectors.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on americium, visit Britannica.com.