Isotopes of tantalum

Isotopes of tantalum

Natural tantalum (Ta) consists of two isotopes: 180mTa (0.012%) and 181Ta (99.988%). 181Ta is a stable isotope. 180mTa ("m" denotes a metastable state) is predicted to decay in three ways: isomeric transition to the ground state of 180Ta, beta decay to 180W, electron capture to 180Hf. However, any radioactivity of this nuclear isomer was never observed. Only a lower limit on its half life of over 1015 years has been set. The ground state of 180Ta has a half life of only 8 hours.

180mTa is the only naturally occurring nuclear isomer (excluding radiogenic and cosmogenic short-living nuclides). It is also the rarest primordial isotope in the Universe of any element that has stable isotopes.

Tantalum has been proposed as a "salting" material for nuclear weapons (cobalt is another, better-known salting material). A jacket of 181Ta, irradiated by the intense high-energy neutron flux from an exploding thermonuclear weapon, would transmute into the radioactive isotope 182Ta with a half-life of 114.43 days and produce approximately 1.12 MeV of gamma radiation, significantly increasing the radioactivity of the weapon's fallout for several months. Such a weapon is not known to have ever been built, tested, or used.

Standard atomic mass: 180.94788(2) u



* Values marked # are not purely derived from experimental data, but at least partly from systematic trends. Spins with weak assignment arguments are enclosed in parentheses.
* Uncertainties are given in concise form in parentheses after the corresponding last digits. Uncertainty values denote one standard deviation, except isotopic composition and standard atomic mass from IUPAC which use expanded uncertainties.


* Isotope masses from [ Ame2003 Atomic Mass Evaluation] by G. Audi, A.H. Wapstra, C. Thibault, J. Blachot and O. Bersillon in "Nuclear Physics" A729 (2003).
* Isotopic compositions and standard atomic masses from [ Atomic weights of the elements. Review 2000 (IUPAC Technical Report)] . "Pure Appl. Chem." Vol. 75, No. 6, pp. 683-800, (2003) and [ Atomic Weights Revised (2005)] .
* Half-life, spin, and isomer data selected from these sources. Editing notes on this article's talk page.
** Audi, Bersillon, Blachot, Wapstra. [ The Nubase2003 evaluation of nuclear and decay properties] , Nuc. Phys. A 729, pp. 3-128 (2003).
** National Nuclear Data Center, Brookhaven National Laboratory. Information extracted from the [ NuDat 2.1 database] (retrieved Sept. 2005).
** David R. Lide (ed.), Norman E. Holden in "CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 85th Edition", online version. CRC Press. Boca Raton, Florida (2005). Section 11, Table of the Isotopes.

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