Radiochemistry & Nuclear Materials


Efforts in radiochemistry and nuclear materials include the synthesis and characterization of actinide bearing materials. Hydrothermal techniques, X-ray crystallography and optical spectroscopy form the core of a research program that explores hybrid materials and their relevance to the environment and the nuclear fuel cycle in general. A fundamental understanding of uranium (and other actinide) coordination chemistry in particular is critical for understanding transport behavior, separations and basic materials’ properties. As such, efforts focus largely on synthesizing families of related uranyl carboxylates, phosphonates and halides and deducing structural systematics as related to stability and electronic properties.

Related to structural efforts is a focus on synthesis conditions that promote organic reactivity during crystal growth. Such ‘in situ ligand synthesis’ explores the role(s) of actinides in facilitating organic reactions under hydrothermal conditions. Interest in this area stems from the desire to form new and exotic topologies not obtainable from conventional syntheses as well as exploring the influence of uranium on the reactivity of organic systems under conditions relevant to the nuclear fuel cycle.


Research in the Cahill group is supported by the US Department of Energy, both as a single investigator and as a node of the Energy Frontier Research Center-Materials Science of Actinides headed by the University of Notre Dame. Collaborations include UC Davis, Argonne and Pacific Northwest National Labs, and University of Nevada-Reno.