A High-Pressure Structure in Curium Linked to Magnetism

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Science  01 Jul 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5731, pp. 110-113
DOI: 10.1126/science.1112453

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Curium lies at the center of the actinide series and has a half-filled shell with seven 5f electrons spatially residing inside its radon core. As a function of pressure, curium exhibits five different crystallographic phases up to 100 gigapascals, of which all but one are also found in the preceding element, americium. We describe here a structure in curium, Cm III, with monoclinic symmetry, space group C2/c, found at intermediate pressures (between 37 and 56 gigapascals). Ab initio electronic structure calculations agree with the observed sequence of structures and establish that it is the spin polarization of curium's 5f electrons that stabilizes Cm III. The results reveal that curium is one of a few elements that has a lattice structure stabilized by magnetism.

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