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Chemical Sciences and Engineering Division

Heavy Elements and Separation Sciences

Insights into heavy element structural chemistries, both in solution and in the solid state, are informing fundamental behaviors relevant to inorganic, physical, and materials chemistries, as well as separations and environmental sciences.

The Heavy Elements and Separation Sciences group (HESS) seeks to understand the fundamental drivers within two broad research thrusts. The first is developing a detailed mechanistic understanding of liquid-liquid separations as the process used to extract, isolate and purify the actinides, lanthanides, and their fission products. The second is understanding chemical trends within the 5f series and how they integrate and inform similar studies across the periodic table. In both areas we characterize solution speciation, interfacial interactions, and solid-state structures with the accuracies necessary to obtain a predictive knowledge of the energetics and multi-scale phase-transfer reactions.
Our research primarily focuses on the actinide elements, specifically those heavier than uranium. Because so little is known about their chemistry, our efforts include a significant component devoted to the synthesis and characterization of new actinide compounds. We seek to use insights gained on the unique structural and electronic properties of these heavy elements and their compounds to broadly inform trends across the entire periodic table.