Heavy Element Chemistry

This program accepts and reviews proposals continuously under the annual Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) entitled, “Continuation of Solicitation for the Office of Science Financial Assistance Program” available on the Open FOA page. Preproposals or white papers are strongly encouraged for all new proposals. Instructions for preapplication submission are included in the annual FOA.

This activity supports basic research in the chemistry of the actinides and transactinide elements. The unique molecular bonding of these elements is explored using experiment and theory to elucidate electronic and molecular structure as well as reaction thermodynamics. Emphasis is placed on resolving the f-electron challenge; the chemical and physical properties of these elements to determine solution, interfacial and solid-state bonding and reactivity; fundamental transactinide chemical properties; and on bonding relationships of the actinides as compared to the lanthanides and transition metals.

Resolving the chemistry and physics of f-electrons is one of the grand challenges of science for energy technology. Research to meet this challenge is pursued in the HEC program and includes efforts aimed at implementing quantum-mechanical theories that more adequately describe spin-orbit interactions and relativistic effects, and efforts to expand our ability to predict actinide chemical behavior under conditions relevant to DOE mission.

Synthetic and spectroscopic research is pursued within the HEC program on chemical bonding and reactivity of molecules that contain actinides in DOE-mission relevant species, with a goal of gaining a fundamental understanding actinide-ligand bonding and aiding the development of ligands to sequester actinides. Better characterization and modeling of the interactions of actinides at liquid-solid and liquid-liquid interfaces, including clusters and mineral surfaces under DOE-relevant conditions, is motivated by improving the separations processes that are essential for advanced nuclear fuel cycles and improving models of actinide environmental transport, including nuclear forensics and other DOE-mission relevant research involving the actinides and beyond.

To obtain more information about this research area, please see the proceedings of our Principal Investigators' Meetings. To better understand how this research area fits within the Department of Energy's Office of Science, please refer to the Basic Energy Science's organization chart and budget request.

For more information about this research area, please contact Dr. Philip Wilk.