Charles Explorer logo

Hydrogen in actinides: electronic and lattice properties

Publication at Faculty of Mathematics and Physics |


Hydrides of actinides, their magnetic, electronic, transport, and thermodynamic properties are discussed within a general framework of H impact on bonding, characterized by volume expansion, affecting mainly the 5f states, and a charge transfer towards H, which influences mostly the 6d and 7s states. These general mechanisms have diverse impact on individual actinides, depending on the degree of localization of their 5f states.

Hydrogenation of uranium yields UH2 and UH3, binary hydrides that are strongly magnetic due to the 5f band narrowing and reduction of the 5f-6d hybridization. Pu hydrides become magnetic as well, mainly as a result of the stabilization of the magnetic 5f (5) state and elimination of the admixture of the non-magnetic 5f (6) component.

Ab-initio computational analyses, which for example suggest that the ferromagnetism of beta-UH3 is rather intricate involving two non-collinear sublattices, are corroborated by spectroscopic studies of sputter-deposited thin films, yielding a clean surface and offering a variability of compositions. It is found that valence-band photoelectron spectra cannot be compared directly with the 5f (n) ground-state density of states.

Being affected by electron correlations in the excited final states, they rather reflect the atomic 5f (n) (-1) multiplets. Similar tendencies can be identified also in hydrides of binary and ternary intermetallic compounds.

H absorption can be used as a tool for fine tuning of electronic structure around a quantum critical point. A new direction is represented by actinide polyhydrides with a potential for high-temperature superconductivity.