A new x-ray technique to unravel electronic properties of actinide compounds

A new research demonstrates a direct and selective way to investigate 5f electrons in actinide compounds as well as their interaction with other valence electrons


Actinides are a series of chemical elements that form the basis of nuclear fission technology, finding applications in strategic areas such as power generation, space exploration, diagnostics and medical treatments, and also in some special glass. Thorium (Th) and Uranium (U) are the most abundant actinides in the Earth’s crust.

A deeper understanding of the properties of uranium and other actinides is necessary not only for their more efficient use in existing applications but also for proposing new applications. Several open questions remain, progress in this area usually limited in part by the difficulty in handling these materials safely.

The distribution of electrons in the outer orbital of the atoms that make up a given material is what defines whether they are electrical insulators, conductors or semiconductors, as well as whether they are hard or malleable. Other structural, electronic and magnetic properties are also defined by these valence electrons which may undergo electronic hybridization with other orbitals. Such mixture of orbitals modifies material properties influencing oxidation states, the way bonding between atoms takes place, and hence the geometrical arrangement formed in crystals and molecules with actinide elements.


>Read more on the Brazilian Synchrotron Light Laboratory website