X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy (XAS) together with x-ray diffraction methods were used in inactive analogues of the French nuclear waste glass to analyze Pd-Te precipitates and the peculiarity of the sites occupied by some structural probe elements such as Mo, Zn, Zr and Si in the glassy part of the material. The influence of the precipitates on the structure of the glassy matrix around these structural probes was investigated by comparing noble metal bearing compositions together with noble metal free glasses.
In noble metal bearing glasses, Pd is associated to Te as (Pd90 Te10) precipitates. Pd K-edge EXAFS shows the presence of Te in the Pd coordination shell and is in accordance with a non-metallic character of the Pd-Te bond. Mo K-edge EXAFS shows that Mo occurs as molybdate groups non connected to the glassy matrix, which may be related to the occasional separation of Mo-rich phases in some compositions. Zr is located in an octahedron with d(Zr-O)=2.08Å 0.01Å whereas Zn is 4-fold coordinated with d(Zn-0)=-1.95 Å± 0.01Å. Beyond this well defined first coordination shell, XAS detects some degree of medium range order which gives insight on the bonding of the site to the polymeric borosilicate network. The interatomic Zn-Si and Zr-Si EXAFS-determined distances agree with a ZnO4 and Si04 tetrahedra sharing corners geometry and Zr-Si octahedra sharing corner with Si04 tetrahedra. A third shell of neighbors around Zr was evidenced in the noble metal bearing glasses and in a four oxide glass, indicating that Zr is an element useful for detecting subtle changes in the local structure of complex borosilicate glasses. Si K XANES shows modifications in the connection between Si04 tetrahedra when noble metals are present. To obtain accurate and precise structural interpretations, a direct comparison between EXAFS data and Molecular Dynamic (M.D.) calculations on simplified nuclear glass comprising six oxides has been performed. MD calculations show that the distribution of the Zr-O distances is harmonic in the k-range accessible with EXAFS in glasses.