Nickel is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Ni and atomic number 28. It has been used for many years, but wasn’t identified until 1751 when Swedish chemist Axel Fredrik Cronstedt isolated it for the first time. It is a silvery-white metal that almost never occurs in natural form because it is reactive with oxygen. However, nickel is commonly found in minerals that contain sulfur, iron and arsenic. All of the naturally occurring nickel is made up of one of 5 stable isotopes, although many other isotopes of this metal have been identified.
How many isotopes does nickel have?
The five stable isotopes of nickel are 58Ni, 60Ni , 61Ni , 62Ni and 64Ni. The most common of these isotopes is 58Ni, which makes up approximately 68.1% of the nickel found on Earth. About 26% is made up of 60Ni, 3.6% is 62Ni, 1.1% is 61Ni and a very small percentage is 64Ni.
There are also 26 unstable (radioactive) isotopes of nickel. The most stable of these are 59Ni, which has a half life of 76,000 years, 63Ni with a half life of 100.1 years and 56Ni with a half life of just over 6 days. The remaining unstable isotopes of nickel have a half life less than 3 days and most have a half life that is shorter than 30 seconds.
Did you know?
59Ni is used in the geological industry for radiometric dating. One way it is used in this industry is to find the age of meteorites.
Although 58Ni is listed is stable it is thought to actually be unstable. However, the half life of this isotope is so large (longer than the age of Earth) that it is considered to be “observationally stable.”