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 Discovery of an Extragalactic Hot Molecular Core
29.09.2016 | National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

nachricht Swiss space research reaches for the sky
29.09.2016 | Schweizerischer Nationalfonds SNF

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: New welding process joins dissimilar sheets better

Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of light metals.
Scientists at the University of Stuttgart have now developed two new process variants that will considerably expand the areas of application for friction stir welding.
Technologie-Lizenz-Büro (TLB) GmbH supports the University of Stuttgart in patenting and marketing its innovations.

Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of...

Im Focus: First quantum photonic circuit with electrically driven light source

Optical quantum computers can revolutionize computer technology. A team of researchers led by scientists from Münster University and KIT now succeeded in putting a quantum optical experimental set-up onto a chip. In doing so, they have met one of the requirements for making it possible to use photonic circuits for optical quantum computers.

Optical quantum computers are what people are pinning their hopes on for tomorrow’s computer technology – whether for tap-proof data encryption, ultrafast...

Im Focus: OLED microdisplays in data glasses for improved human-machine interaction

The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP has been developing various applications for OLED microdisplays based on organic semiconductors. By integrating the capabilities of an image sensor directly into the microdisplay, eye movements can be recorded by the smart glasses and utilized for guidance and control functions, as one example. The new design will be debuted at Augmented World Expo Europe (AWE) in Berlin at Booth B25, October 18th – 19th.

“Augmented-reality” and “wearables” have become terms we encounter almost daily. Both can make daily life a little simpler and provide valuable assistance for...

Im Focus: Artificial Intelligence Helps in the Discovery of New Materials

With the help of artificial intelligence, chemists from the University of Basel in Switzerland have computed the characteristics of about two million crystals made up of four chemical elements. The researchers were able to identify 90 previously unknown thermodynamically stable crystals that can be regarded as new materials. They report on their findings in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

Elpasolite is a glassy, transparent, shiny and soft mineral with a cubic crystal structure. First discovered in El Paso County (Colorado, USA), it can also be...

Im Focus: Complex hardmetal tools out of the 3D printer

For the first time, Fraunhofer IKTS shows additively manufactured hardmetal tools at WorldPM 2016 in Hamburg. Mechanical, chemical as well as a high heat resistance and extreme hardness are required from tools that are used in mechanical and automotive engineering or in plastics and building materials industry. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Dresden managed the production of complex hardmetal tools via 3D printing in a quality that are in no way inferior to conventionally produced high-performance tools.

Fraunhofer IKTS counts decades of proven expertise in the development of hardmetals. To date, reliable cutting, drilling, pressing and stamping tools made of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

HLF: From an experiment to an establishment

29.09.2016 | Event News

European Health Forum Gastein 2016 kicks off today

28.09.2016 | Event News

Laser use for neurosurgery and biofabrication - LaserForum 2016 focuses on medical technology

27.09.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

New Multiferroic Materials from Building Blocks

29.09.2016 | Materials Sciences

Silicon Fluorescent Material Developed Enabling Observations under a Bright “Biological Optical Window”

29.09.2016 | Materials Sciences

X-shape Bio-inspired Structures

29.09.2016 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>