Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New Jersey Institute of Technology physicist uncovers new information about plutonium

09.05.2003


The storage of plutonium has long plagued scientists. “It is a dangerous metal and its long term storage must be done with special care so as not to harm the environment, ”said physicist Serguei Savrasov, Ph.D.



Finding a solution to this problem led Savrasov, an associate professor at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), and a team of researchers at Rutgers University and Los Alamos National Laboratories, to study how this metal reacts to heat, a natural condition of storage over time.

The team’s findings are published in the May 9, 2003 issue of Science.


Using a computer simulation, the researchers employed algorithms, to predict that when plutonium is heated, the volume of the plutonium lattice will change and the precise volume of the metal will collapse five percent. The simulation also predicted that heated plutonium deforms differently in various directions.

Other researchers working on the project were Xi Dai, Gabriel Kotliar and Elihu Abrahams, all of Rutgers University, and Albert Migliori and Hassel Ledbetter of Los Alamos National Laboratories, New Mexico. This simulation was the second part of an effort by this team. The April, 2001 issue of Nature reported the findings of several members of this group (S. Savrasov, G. Kotliar, and E. Abrahams). Their findings explored the anomalous expansion of plutonium.

Support for the project included a National Science Foundation Career Development Grant for $400,000, awarded to Savrasov, and a Department of Energy Division of Basic Energy Sciences grant for $300,000 awarded to Kotliar, Abrahams and Sasvrasov.

The new computer simulation by members of the same group plus others focused on why the metal shrinks. “There is an exciting and unusual interplay between the electrons and the plutonium lattice dynamic which is responsible for these unusual properties and why the volume collapses,” said Savrasov.

“It is important for the scientists to do the experiment as a simulation because plutonium is a toxic and radioactive element. It is dangerous for scientists to work with it directly,” added Savrasov.

The computer simulation showed the anisotropic elastic properties of plutonium. “Most metals are isotropic which means that the elastic properties are the same when you are stretching them,” Savrasov said. “But plutonium is anisotropic. When you stretch it in some directions, the metal is very soft. But when you pull it in other directions, it behaves like a typical metal, and is hard to stretch.”

The computer simulation done by the researchers modeled the properties of the plutonium lattice. “When you heat plutonium, it shows six structures and you can see it undergo these transitions,” said Savrasov.

The team modeled two of the six high temperature transitions. “When the plutonium is heated, it acts like popcorn in a microwave,” said Savrasov. “It pops up and increases 30 percent of its size and then after you heat it further, the metal collapses. This behavior is very unusual and unexpected for a metal.”

Savrasov said that such information hopefully will aid material scientists and engineers who are responsible for storing the metal. “Of course scientists know what they are doing, but our research helps them understand more about this metal’s basic properties,” Savrasov said.


Additional Contact:
Joseph Blumberg
Manager, Science Communications
Rutgers University
(732) 932-7084, x 652
blumberg@ur.rutgers.edu

Sheryl Weinstein | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rutgers.edu/

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time
17.10.2017 | University of Maryland

nachricht Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging
17.10.2017 | American Association for the Advancement of Science

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers release the brakes on the immune system

18.10.2017 | Health and Medicine

Separating methane and CO2 will become more efficient

18.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Ocean atmosphere rife with microbes

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>