Californium-252 is valued because of its property as a strong neutron emitter, thus, its specialized applications.

  • In nuclear reactors, it is used as a neutron start-up source and as a portable neutron source in detecting trace amounts of certain elements (i.e., neutron activation analysis).
  • In the treatment of certain types of brain and cervical cancers in cases when radiation therapy has been ineffective.
  • In the cement and coal industries particularly in bulk material and elemental coal analyzers.
  • In educational establishments, such as universities, a trend that started in 1969 when the Savannah River Plant loaned 119 micrograms of californium-252 to the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The element is used in fuel rod scanners, portable metal detectors, and neutron radiography equipment in weapons and aircraft. It is also used in the production of other trans-uranium elements including lawrencium (i.e., the californium was bombarded with boron nuclei).


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