Graduate Programs - USA
The Department of Chemistry of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville (UT-K), in cooperation with the Chemistry Division of the nearby Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), offers its students a research program focused on physical-chemical studies of the transuranium elements. New knowledge is being accumulated in the role of the 5f electrons in the bonding in actinide elements and compounds, the relationships of metallic structures to metallic valence and radius, the extent and magnitude of the actinide contraction, the magnetic, thermodynamic, spectroscopic, and crystallographic properties of these materials as related to general theories, the effect of self-irradiation on chemical and physical properties, the chemical and physical consequences of radioactive decay in the bulk-phase solid state, and in general, the range of validity of the actinide hypothesis.

This program, under the direction of Prof. J. R. Peterson (Ph.D.,University of California, Berkeley, 1967), provides training for undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral students in research with the transuranium elements through continuing investigations of their basic chemical and physical properties and the interpretation and correlation of the results obtained. Training in the use, handling, and disposal of radioactive materials is included. The training of any one student can encompass a wide variety of experience in several different areas of "classical" chemistry. However, the unifying theme is the study of transuranium elements and their 4f analogues, the lanthanides. Specific projects for a student's research effort are dependent upon his/her capabilities, interests, and to some extent upon the availability of the element or isotope of interest. Current research areas include the characterization of lanthanide and actinide compounds via phonon Raman spectroscopy, use of luminescence spectroscopy to probe the structure of lanthanide and actinide compounds, absorption. luminescence, and Raman spectrophotometry of lanthanide and actinide materials under pressure in diamond anvil cells, measurement of the enthalpies of solution of selected lanthanide and actinide compounds, direct or indirect (via radioactive decay) synthesis of actinide compounds containing unusual oxidation states, broader application of studies to determine the physical and chemical consequences of radioactive decay in the bulk-phase solid state, and growth of single crystals of lanthanide and actinide compounds on the milligram scale. New projects are often developed based on the interests of a particular student.

The UT-K transuranium elements research group collaborates on a regular and continuing basis with several ORNL staff scientists. The research is carried out in the ORNL Transuranium Research Laboratory and is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy under agreements with UT-K and Lockheed Martin Energy Research Corp. Financial support as teaching and/or research assistants is available through UT-K.

For additional information about this research program and graduate studies in chemistry at UT-K, please contact:
Professor Joseph R. Peterson
Department of Chemistry
The University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN 37996-1600
PHONE: (865) 974-3434 (UT-K) or (865) 574-5016 (ORNL)
FAX: (865) 974-3454