United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Curie (Ci)

One of three units used to measure the intensity of radioactivity in a sample of material. This value refers to the amount of ionizing radiation released when an element (such as uranium) spontaneously emits energy as a result of the radioactive decay (or disintegration) of an unstable atom. Radioactivity is also the term used to describe the rate at which radioactive material emits radiation, or how many atoms in the material decay (or disintegrate) in a given time period. As such, 1 Ci is equal to 37 billion (3.7 x 1010) disintegrations per second, so 1 Ci also equals 37 billion (3.7 x 1010) Bequerels (Bq). A curie is also a quantity of any radionuclide that decays at a rate of 37 billion disintegrations per second (1 gram of radium, for example). The curie is named for Marie and Pierre Curie, who discovered radium in 1898.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Tuesday, October 28, 2014