Published Research - Department of Chemistry


Date of this Version



Published in Materials Science and Engineering 9, 1-7 (2010). Copyright © 2010 IOP Publishing Ltd. Used by Permission.


The common oxides of plutonium are the dioxide (PuO2) and the sesquioxide (Pu2O3). The nature of an oxide on plutonium metal under air at room temperature is typically described as a thick PuO2 film at the gas-oxide interface with a thinner Pu2O3 film near the oxide-metal substrate interface. In a reducing environment, such as ultra high vacuum, the dioxide (Pu4+; O/Pu=2.0) readily converts to the sesquioxide (Pu3+; O/Pu=1.5) with time. In this work, the growth and evolution of thin plutonium oxide films is studied with x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) under varying conditions. The results indicate that, like the dioxide, the sesquioxide is not stable on a clean metal substrate under reducing conditions, resulting in substoichiometric films (Pu2O3-y). The Pu2O3-y films prepared exhibit a variety of stoichiometries (y~0.2-1) as a function of preparation conditions, highlighting the fact that caution must be exercised when studying plutonium oxide surfaces under these conditions and interpreting resulting data.

Included in

Chemistry Commons