Class: Elemental Structure
Notable Properties: alpha-particle source, poison
Polonium is unique among the elements because of its preference to crystallize in an exceptionally rare yet simple primitive cubic unit cell (Pm-3m, a = 3.3352 Å). None the less this structure type represents one of the 3 fundamental structures of the elements (primitive cubic, body centered cubic and face centered cubic (ccp/hcp)).
However, Po is probably best known for its radioactivity being a significant cause of lung cancer in cigarette smokers, and common use in anti-static applications. The solid for of Po, is also notable for its apparent volatility at slightly elevated temperatures (>50 °C), adopting the molecular structure Po2. Essentially all of the polonium (100 g/year) used throughout the world is synthesized in Russian nuclear reactors as 210Po.