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Researchers model bonding properties of californium

In a recent Nature Chemistry publication, two post-doctorate members of Professor Laura Gagliardi's group, Rémi Maurice and Nora Planas, employed quantum mechanical calculations to model the bonding properties of the heaviest element that exists on Earth—californium—with a borate ligand environment.

Their work served to demonstrate that the 5f, 6d and 7p orbitals are all involved in bonding in this unprecedented Cf(III) borate material. The work was performed in collaboration with the group of Thomas E. Albrecht-Schmitt of Florida State University. A decrease in covalency across the actinide series is expected, which would imply purely ionic bonding for late actinides. In contrast, synthetic, structural and spectroscopic data show that large crystal-field effects are present in the new material indicating some degree of covalency in the bonding.

This research, which could open new opportunities to store radioactive waste and recycle radioactive fuel, was published in Nature Chemistry. It was highlighted in Chemistry World, Time magazine, and C&EN News.