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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Probing electronic structure in berkelium and californium via an electron microscopy nanosampling approach.

  • Author(s): Müller, Alexander
  • Deblonde, Gauthier J-P
  • Ercius, Peter
  • Zeltmann, Steven E
  • Abergel, Rebecca J
  • Minor, Andrew M
  • et al.

Due to their rarity and radioactive nature, comparatively little is known about the actinides, particularly those with atomic numbers higher than that of plutonium, and their compounds. In this work, we describe how transmission electron microscopy can provide comprehensive, safe, and cost-effective characterization using only single nanogram amounts of highly-radioactive, solid compounds. Chlorides of the rare elements berkelium and californium are dropcast and then converted in situ to oxides using the electron beam. The f-band occupancies are probed using electron energy loss spectroscopy and an unexpectedly weak spin-orbit-coupling is identified for berkelium. In contrast, californium follows a jj coupling scheme. These results have important implications for the chemistries of these elements and solidify the status of californium as a transitional element in the actinide series.

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