Beryllium is a lightweight, strong and brittle white-gray metal. It is a chemical element represented by the atomic number 4 and the symbol Be. It is never found in free form on the planet, but is found combined with other elements in various minerals. Isotopes of beryllium are created in stars and are short lived, which means that it is a relatively rare element on Earth and in the Universe. Beryllium is a monoisotopic element, which means that it is one of the 26 elements with only one stable isotope. However, there are a number of other isotopes of beryllium that has been found. Let’s find out how many isotopes of beryllium have been identified.
How many isotopes does beryllium have?
We already known that beryllium has one stable isotope, known as beryllium-9 (9Be), and this makes up almost all of the beryllium on the planet. There are 11 other isotopes of beryllium that have been identified, but all of these are unstable (radioactive). The most stable of these isotopes is 10Be which has a half life of 1.39 million years. The second longest half life belongs to 7Be with a half life of 53.22 days. Both of these unstable isotopes are found naturally on Earth, but only in trace amounts. The remaining unstable isotopes have a half-life of less than 13.85 seconds and most are under 20 milliseconds. The least stable beryllium isotope is 6Be which has a half life of just 5.03 zeptoseconds (a zeptosecond is one sextillionth of a second!).
Did you know?
10Be is created by cosmic rays and accumulates in the soil on Earth. It is used to study soil erosion and formation.