Welcome to the Heavy Elements Group at Texas A&M University, headed by Prof. Folden. Our group works at the intersection of physical, analytical, and radiochemistry to study the chemical properties of radioactive elements. The common theme that unites our work is the study of the chemical and physical properties of the heaviest elements, including the actinide and transactinide elements. We have three main research projects:
- The study of the chemical properties of transactinide elements and their homologs. We use separation techniques to study the chemistry of the nihonium homologs indium and thallium in a traditional chemistry laboratory. The data are used to prepare for future “online” experiments using radionuclides produced in a nuclear reaction. We are also developing new instrumentation for these experiments. This work will eventually be applied to doing chemical experiments on superheavy elements.
- The use of nuclear forensics to find new ways to reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism. In collaboration with the Department of Nuclear Engineering, we are studying the forensics signatures that are present in used nuclear fuel using radioanalytical techniques.
- The study of nuclear reactions. We are working to understand the factors that control the production of superheavy elements. This involves measuring the production cross sections for a variety of nuclear fusion reactions, and using theoretical models to interpret the results. Our work is helping to understand how difficult it will be to produce the next new superheavy element.