Polonium is a metalloid that is silver colored solid in its natural solid state. Polonium is highly radioactive and extremely unstable. Polonium has an atomic weight of 209, a melting point of 489 °F, and a boiling point of 1764 °F. Polonium does not have many uses due to its radioactivity. Some of the few uses of polonium include: as an alloy for a source of neutrons, as an atomic heat source, and sometimes it is used as a poison.
Polonium is extremely rare, and it is normally only found and isolated in small amounts from ores which also contain uranium.
The isolation process of polonium can never be carried out in a small scale laboratory setting as this element is extremely toxic and radioactive. Polonium is also very rare. Most isolation procedures are carried out from ore which contains bismuth and uranium. The bismuth and uranium are separated, and then the polonium must be separated from the bismuth. These processes are carried out through fractional distillation or through using silver and the process of electro-depositing to separate the bismuth from the polonium. Fractional distillation of these two elements relies of the different boiling points of the elements in order to heat them to temperatures in which one element is boiled off while the other element remains. Special compartments collect the gas of the vaporized element in order to condense the element back into a liquid and then solid state. Polonium can also be produced through neutron irradiation of the bismuth isotope 209.
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