Heavy Element Research Laboratory
Actinide Chemistry Program Research Program Infrastructure
The Heavy Element Research Laboratory (HERL) is the main location for transuranic chemistry at LBNL; UC Berkeley faculty have additional laboratories on campus in which thorium and uranium can be handled. The HERL is operated and managed by the ACG, which has a solid record of handling radioactive materials safely. The HERL consists of three interconnecting laboratories with dedicated radiochemical gloveboxes, fume hoods, an X-ray powder diffractometer, an electrospray ionization mass spectrometer, and standard wet chemical laboratory equipment. The nuclear counting room shares internal access with the main laboratories and has a solid-state Ge γ-spectrometer, an α-spectrometer, and a liquid scintillation counter. The HERL is surrounded by satellite laboratories accommodating a wide range of diverse synthetic, spectroscopic, and analytical experiments with radionuclides. The ACG has an adequate inventory of low activity isotopes, such as 243Am, for experimental work. These isotopes are mostly recycled. The BGS coupled to the 88-Inch Cyclotron, both operated by the LBNL NSD, is unique for transactinide chemistry research.
Research Center Leader
Transuranic Coordination Chemistry
Since the invention of the atomic bomb in 1945, the energy potential of the actinides has impacted the world; actinides are used in power generation, military applications, and space exploration. These applications have generated many environmental and health concerns. The risks of environmental contamination and exposure to the population, caused by accidental or intentional release of actinides, have created a need for improved methods for the production and reprocessing of reactor fuel materials for increased efficiency and reduced waste. There is also a need for safe and effective chelating agents for decorporation and decontamination, as well as for separation technologies. However, our fundamental knowledge of the chemistry of the actinides is relatively limited. Understanding the coordination properties and solution behavior of f-element complexes will enable us to address issues central to the priority missions of the U. S. Department of Energy (DOE), including the development of ligands for in vivo decorporation, and new technologies for environmental cleanup and hazardous waste reduction in contaminated sites.