Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Indian scientists conduct unique study of uranium

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

New Delhi, May 9, IRNA -- Indian scientists of Kalpakkam-based Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research in Tamil Nadu have recently reported a basic study of pure uranium metal using Raman Spectroscopy, what they say the first study of its kind in the world.

Study of metals by Raman Spectroscopy is a challenging scientific problem due to the low penetration of laser into metals and hence low sampling volumes.

'Considering that the Raman spectra of metals have not been studied widely owing to their weak spectral intensities, the work on the Raman Spectra of uranium to understand its structural properties is a significant step, said Dr T R Ravindran of the Condensed Matter Physics Division in Mumbai, according to pti.

Many metals--those that crystallise in face centred cubic (fcc) or body centred cubic (bcc) structures--do not have Raman active modes, and hence out of the purview of Raman spectroscopy, he said.

An enhancement of signal is achieved by a Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering technique in a novel geometry, utilising a thin coating of a few nanometres of gold on uranium with surface scratches and pits of dimensions of several nanometres, Ravindran said in the journal of Raman Spectroscopy and latest newsletter of Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR).

Technologically important actinide metals like uranium and plutonium have not been investigated using Raman spectroscopy due to poor signal intensities and the present work opens up possibility that this technique can be used to study other metals and materials of weak Raman intensity, Ravindran and his colleagues said.

ICGAR is the second largest establishment of the Department of Atomic Energy next to Bhabha Atomic Research Centre with the main objective of conducting broad-based scientific research directed towards the development of sodium cooled Fast Breeder Reactor [FBR] technology.

Replying to a query on Raman weak intensity and how it will help in the study of materials or metals in their future use, Ravindran said, 'Raman scattering is a weak effect; we need very sensitive instruments to record Raman spectra; even then there are a large number of materials that do not give rise to intense Raman spectra and hence difficult to study.'

For example, metallic materials; special techniques such as Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS), or Resonance Raman scattering (that can be achieved, by changing the laser excitation wavelength) need to be employed in such cases, he said.

At present the study, though significant, is in the realm of basic research.

Ravindran said that applications of this will be known only when further studies and analyses are done.

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