Complex Oxides in the Nuclear Fuel Cycle – New Activities at UC Irvine, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry and Materials Science and Engineering at UCI
Complex oxides with fluorite derived structures play a key role in the nuclear fuel cycle context. We enhance wet-chemical synthesis routes, e.g. co-precipitation or internal gelation, to fabricate tailor-made precursors for advanced nuclear fuel forms as well as potential nuclear waste forms with the defect fluorite or pyrochlore crystal structure. Utilizing state-of-the-art-characterization techniques such as neutron diffraction with pair distribution function analysis and laser fluorescence spectroscopy enables an in-depth understanding of materials properties and provides structural information such as where and how actinides, e.g. Pu are immobilized in a pyrochlore waste form. An overview of recent activities about developing suitable fabrication routes of fluorite-structure derived ceramics in the nuclear context, the impact of the fabrication avenue towards their properties as well as the effect of radiation-induced structural order/disorder transitions towards the properties of the materials will be presented.
Sarah Finkeldei studied Chemistry at the RWTH Aachen and studied pyrochlore oxides as potential nuclear waste form during her PhD in the Institute of Nuclear Waste Management at the Helmholtz Research Center Juelich, Germany. She received her PhD with honors from the RWTH Aachen University in 2014. During her time as a postdoctoral researcher in the Helmholtz Center in Juelich, she led a collaborative project with Prof. Rodney Ewing (Stanford University) and Prof. Maik Lang (UT Knoxville) on long-term matrix corrosion of spent nuclear fuel. In August 2017 Sarah joined the Nuclear Fuel Materials Group at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory as a postdoctoral researcher and worked under the supervision of Dr. Kurt Terrani and Dr. Andrew Nelson for the Advanced Fuels Campaign of DOE. In July 2019 Sarah joined the Department of Chemistry at UCI as Assistant Professor where her research interests span from advance nuclear fuel forms to nuclear waste forms.