We report a solution based synthesis of epitaxial thin films of neptunium oxide and plutonium oxide. Actinides represent a challenge to first principle calculations due to features that arise from f orbital interactions. Conventional semi-local density functional theory predicts NpO2 and PuO2 to be metallic, when they are well known insulators. Improvements in theory are dependent on comparison with accurate measurements of material properties, which in turn demand high-quality samples. The high melting point of actinide oxides and their inherent radioactivity makes single crystal and epitaxial film formation challenging. We report on the preparation of high quality epitaxial actinide films. The films have been characterized through a combination of X-ray diffraction and X-ray absorption fine structure (XANES and EXAFS) measurements. We report band gaps of 2.80 ± 0.1 eV and 2.85 ± 0.1 eV at room temperature for PuO2 and NpO2, respectively, and compare our measurements with state-of-the-art calculations.
Optical band gap of NpO2 and PuO2 from optical absorbance of epitaxial films
T. Mark McCleskey, Eve Bauer, Quanxi Jia, Anthony K. Burrell, Brian L. Scott, Steven D. Conradson, Alex Mueller, Lindsay Roy, Xiaodong Wen, Gustavo E. Scuseria, Richard L. Martin; Optical band gap of NpO2 and PuO2 from optical absorbance of epitaxial films. J. Appl. Phys. 7 January 2013; 113 (1): 013515. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.4772595
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