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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Activation of Water by Pentavalent Actinide Dioxide Cations: Characteristic Curium Revealed by a Reactivity Turn after Americium.


Swapping of an oxygen atom of water with that of a pentavalent actinide dioxide cation, AnO2+ also called an "actinyl", requires activation of an An-O bond. It was previously found that such oxo exchange in the gas phase occurs for the first two actinyls, PaO2+ and UO2+, but not the next two, NpO2+ and PuO2+. The An-O bond dissociation energies (BDEs) decrease from PaO2+ to PuO2+, such that the observation of a parallel decrease in the An-O bond reactivity is intriguing. To elucidate oxo exchange, we here extend experimental studies to AmO2+, americyl(V), and CmO2+, curyl(V), which were produced in remarkable abundance by electrospray ionization of Am3+ and Cm3+ solutions. Like other AnO2+, americyl(V) and curyl(V) adsorb up to four H2O molecules to form tetrahydrates AnO2(H2O)4+ with the actinide hexacoordinated by oxygen atoms. It was found that AmO2+ does not oxo-exchange, whereas CmO2+ does, establishing a "turn" to increasing the reactivity from americyl to curyl, which validates computational predictions. Because oxo exchange occurs via conversion of an actinyl(V) hydrate, AnO2(H2O)+, to an actinide(V) hydroxide, AnO(OH)2+, it reflects the propensity for actinyl(V) hydrolysis: PaO2+ hydrolyzes and oxo-exchanges most easily, despite the fact that it has the highest BDE of all AnO2+. A reexamination of the computational results for actinyl(V) oxo exchange reveals distinctive properties and chemistry of curyl(V) species, particularly CmO(OH)2+.

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