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Soft x-ray scanning transmission x-ray microscope (STXM) spectromicroscopy has been developed and employed to investigate several aspects of actinide chemistry and materials science at the Advanced Light Source Molecular Environmental Science (ALS-MES) Beamline 11.0.2 STXM end station. The basic approach and fundamentals of STXM experiments for radioactive materials systems is discussed. Representative results from STXM spectromicroscopy investigations of a mixed phase uranium nitride, single crystals of Eu(III)[TREN(Me-3,2-HOPO)]3 2H2O and hydrated Pu2(III)(C2O4)3(6H2O) 3H2O complexes are presented. The STXM images and soft x-ray absorption spectra illustrate the capabilities and utility of soft x-ray STXM for providing information about actinide materials, especially the light element constituents. Lastly, new and future opportunities for actinide science utilizing soft x-ray STXM are discussed in light of the planned upgrades for the STXM end stations at the ALS.
The fundamental characterization and understanding of 5f electron behavior in actinide complexes is imperative to provide an enhanced basis for the rational and accelerated development of improved processes relevant to nuclear energy. Soft x-ray absorption spectroscopy utilizing the scanning transmission x-ray microscope (STXM) at the Advanced Light Source-Molecular Environmental Science (ALS-MES) Beamline 11.0.2 has been used to probe the electronic characteristics of a nitrogen donor ligand 2,6-Bis(2-benzimidazyl)pyridine (BBP) and its resulting U(IV) complex. The nitrogen K- and carbon K-edges have been collected from both ligand and uranium complex, as well as the uranium 4d-edge from the complex. Upon complexation, the light element absorption spectra change markedly and the uranium spectra from the complex is compared to the reference spectrum obtained from U(IV)Cl4. The evolution of the spectral features are described and interpreted within a simple conceptual framework. Based on spectral evidence alone, the uranium is bound through the pyridine-like nitrogens and the oxidation state of the uranium is consistent with a U(IV) species.
X-ray absorption near edge structure (XANES) is a sensitive probe of the electronic structure, and can provide information about the valency, the unoccupied electronic states and the effective charge of the absorbing atom. In this paper, near edge x-ray absorption fine structure spectra are reported at the L3, M5 and N5 thresholds and used to determined structural and electronic properties of U(VI) within uranyl nitrate (UO2(NO3)2.6H2O) and perovskite (Ba2ZnUO6). Experimental data analysis by simulating the absorption edge allows to compare the coordination polyhedrons, identify the electronic transitions and calculate the density of states associated with the absorption spectra. Moreover, a coupling between simulations of the experimental spectra and quantum chemical calculations is performed, in order to improve the model describing the final states and better understand the bonding properties of the cation with the ligand.