Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists discover how nanocluster contaminants increase risk of spreading

22.04.2008
For almost half a century, scientists have struggled with plutonium contamination spreading further in groundwater than expected, increasing the risk of sickness in humans and animals.

It was known nanometer sized clusters of plutonium oxide were the culprit, but no one had been able to study its structure or find a way to separate it from the groundwater.

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Notre Dame, were able to use high-energy X-rays from the Argonne Advanced Photon Source to finally discover and study the structure of plutonium nanoclusters.

“When plutonium forms into the clusters, its chemistry is completely different and no one has really been able to assess what it is, how to model it or how to separate it Argonne senior chemist Lynda Soderholm said. “People have known about and tried to understand the nanoclusters, but it was the modern analytical techniques and the APS that allowed us understand what it is.”

The nanoclusters are made up of exactly 38 plutonium atoms and had almost no charge. Unlike stray plutonium ions, which carry a positive charge, they are not attracted to the electrons in plant life, minerals, etc. which stopped the ions’ progression in the ground water.

Models have been based on the free-plutonium model, creating discrepancies between what is expected and reality. Soderholm said that with knowledge of the structure, scientists can now create better models to account for not only free-roaming plutonium ions, but also the nanoclusters.

The clusters also are a problem for plutonium remediation. The free ions are relatively easy to separate out from groundwater, but the clusters are difficult to remove.

“As we learn more, we will be able to model the nanoclusters and figure out how to break them apart,” Soderholm said. “Once they are formed, they are very hard to get rid of.”

Soderholm said other experiments have shown some clusters with different numbers of plutonium atoms and she plans to examine -- together with her collaborators S. Skanthakumar, Richard Wilson and Peter Burns of Argonne’s Chemical Sciences and Engineering Division-- the unique electric and magnetic properties of the clusters.

Brock Cooper | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.anl.gov

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Did you know that the wrapping of Easter eggs benefits from specialty light sources?
13.04.2017 | Heraeus Noblelight GmbH

nachricht To e-, or not to e-, the question for the exotic 'Si-III' phase of silicon
05.04.2017 | Carnegie Institution for Science

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>