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Laser-produced uranium plasma is becoming more complex



  Laser-produced uranium plasma is becoming a more complex species.
When energy is supplied to the uranium under pressure, a shock wave is created, and even a tiny sample evaporates like a small explosion. With smaller, controlled explosions, physicists can test on a microscale what previously could only be tested in larger, more dangerous experiments. In a recent experiment, scientists used a laser to remove atomic uranium while simultaneously recording chemical reactions as the plasma cooled, oxidized, and formed species of more complex uranium. This picture shows spatially and temporally resolved emission contours for the transition in atomic uranium at 591.54 nanometers (left) and the transition to uranium monoxide at 593.55 nm (right). The data were recorded using a monochromator photomultiplier tube with varying oxygen partial pressures. Picture credits: Patrick Skrodzki

When energy is added to uranium under pressure, a shock wave is created and even a tiny sample evaporates like a small explosion. With smaller, controlled explosions, physicists can test in a safe laboratory environment on a microscale, which was previously possible only in larger, more dangerous bomb experiments.

"In our case, it is the laser deposition of energy into a target, but you get the same formation and time-dependent development of uranium plasma," said author Patrick Skrodzki. "With these small explosions in the lab we can understand a similar physics."

In a recent experiment, scientists working with Skrodzki used a laser to ablate atomic uranium and steal its electrons until it ionized and turned into plasma while recording chemical reactions as the plasma cools, oxidizes, and Species of more complex uranium forms. Their work places uranium species and the pathways between them on a map of space and time to find out how many nanoseconds they are forming and what part of the plasma they are in.

In their work published this week in Physics of Plasmas the authors discovered that uranium forms more complex molecules such as uranium monoxide, uranium dioxide, and other larger combinations when mixed with different percentages of oxygen.

"We used optical emission and excitedly looked at states that decay into ground states, but that's only a small part of the image," Skrodzki said.

Uranium, with its 92 electrons and approximately 1,600 energy levels, can produce a complex spectrum that is difficult to decode, even at high concentrations. Resolution spectroscopy. In the work, the authors focused on an energy transition in the plasma. They studied the morphology of the plasma cloud, the interactions between collisions and different oxygen concentrations, as well as other factors such as cloud coverage and particle velocity, to get a detailed picture of species evolution from atomic uranium to more complex uranium oxides.

The resulting data has implications for technologies that use lasers to study materials and detail their elemental composition, such as: For example, the laser spectroscopy system of the Mars Curiosity Rover. It can also be used on a portable device to verify adherence to the Atomic Agreement by checking for evidence of enriched uranium production.

"There is still so much work to do on this subject," said Skrodzki. "This is a scientific question because no one knows anything about the optical emission of these higher visible oxides, and we want to try to provide data to fill those gaps."


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Further information:
P. J. Skrodzki et al., Spring Dynamics and Gas-Phase Molecule Formation in Transient Laser-Produced Uranium Plasmas, Physics of Plasma (2019). DOI: 10.1063 / 1.5087704

Provided by
American Institute of Physics




Quote :
Laser-produced uranium plasma evolves into more complex species (2019, 23 August)
retrieved on 23rd August 2019
from https://phys.org/news/2019-08-laser-produced-uranium-plasma-evolves-complex.html

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