Studies related to U gas-phase oxidation through plasma- and thermo-chemistry are important for many fields, including environmental monitoring, forensic analysis, debris analysis in a weapon detonation event, and nucleation physics. Recently, significant efforts have been made to understand the chemical pathways involved in the progression from U atoms to diatoms (UO) and polyatomic molecules (UxOy), employing optical spectroscopy tools and computational modeling. In many studies, laser ablation of U or a U-containing flow reactor are used as a highly resource-efficient, repeatable, tunable, and lab-scale testbed for studying gas-phase oxidation in U plasmas. The spectroscopic analysis of high-temperature gas-phase oxidation of U is challenging due to the congested U spectra, resolution limitations of instrumentation, and the numerous chemical reaction pathways possible. This article focuses on the current understanding and challenges related to studying U plasma chemistry, specifically U gas-phase oxidation and molecular formation, via optical spectroscopy of plasmas and associated computational and spectral modeling. The physical and chemical processes involved in the evolution from U atoms to U oxide molecules to nanoparticles and agglomerates (i.e., debris) are discussed in the context of optical spectroscopic studies. The article concludes by highlighting opportunities for future research efforts based on existing knowledge published in the literature.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Analytical Chemistry
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
- Computational fluid dynamics
- Plasma chemistry
- Plasma diagnostics
- Spectral modeling