Cobalt is a hard, lustrous, silver-gray metal. Cobalt is primarily used in lithium-ion batteries, and in the manufacture of magnetic, wear-resistant and high-strength alloys. In 2016, 116,000 tonnes of cobalt was used. The main ores of cobalt are cobaltite, erythrite, glaucodot and skutterudite, but most cobalt is obtained by reducing the cobalt by-products of nickel and copper mining and smelting.

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Protons and Neutrons in Cobalt

Cobalt is a chemical element with atomic number 27 which means there are 27 protons in its nucleus. Total number of protons in the nucleus is called the atomic number of the atom and is given the symbol Z. The total electrical charge of the nucleus is therefore +Ze, where e (elementary charge) equals to 1,602 x 10-19 coulombs.

The total number of neutrons in the nucleus of an atom is called the neutron number of the atom and is given the symbol N. Neutron number plus atomic number equals atomic mass number: N+Z=A. The difference between the neutron number and the atomic number is known as the neutron excess: D = N – Z = A – 2Z.

For stable elements, there is usually a variety of stable isotopes. Isotopes are nuclides that have the same atomic number and are therefore the same element, but differ in the number of neutrons. Mass numbers of typical isotopes of Cobalt are 59. 

Main Isotopes of Cobalt

59Co is the only stable cobalt isotope and the only isotope that exists naturally on Earth. Twenty-two radioisotopes have been characterized: the most stable, 60Co, has a half-life of 5.2714 years;

Cobalt-59 is composed of 27 protons, 32 neutrons, and 27 electrons.

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Cobalt-60 is composed of 27 protons, 33 neutrons, and 27 electrons. Cobalt-60 (60Co or Co-60) is a radioactive metal that is used in radiotherapy. It produces two gamma rays with energies of 1.17 MeV and 1.33 MeV. It is useful as a gamma ray source because it can be produced in predictable quantities, and for its high radioactive activity simply by exposing natural cobalt to neutrons in a reactor for a given time.