Charge compensation mechanisms for aliovalent impurities in perovskite and zirconolite

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Australian and New Zealand Institutes of Physics
As part of the chemical design of Synroc-type ceramics for the immobilisation of different high-level radioactive wastes from nuclear fuel reprocessing, it is necessary to understand the various possible charge compensation mechanisms which occur when up to tens of atomic percent of rare earths and actinides are incorporated in solid solution in perovskite (CaTiO3) and zirconolite (CaZrTi2O7). In particular the solid solution of Gd in the Ca site of perovskite and the incorporation of Nd, Ce, U, Np and Pu in the Ca and Zr sites of zirconolite have been studied by XRD, SEM, TEM, and XANES. The essential conclusions are that in formulations where charge compensating ions are made available, then this is the preferred mechanism for incorporation of these cations in Ca and Zr sites. However in formulations where such compensators are not made available, it is possible for charge compensation to take place via significant abundances of cation vacancies, or by the appearance of unexpected valence states stabilised by crystal-chemical forces. An example of the latter is the probable stabilisation of Ti3+ in Ti sites, and of trivalent Ce and actinides in Ca and Zr sites, even under quite oxidising conditions. A complication in these studies is the effect of prevailing or inherited redox conditions. Redox conditions influence phase abundances and compositions as they control the valencies of cations capable of more than one oxidation state. There is also an indication that reducing conditions can promote oxygen site deficiencies in some formulations. Other complicating factors relate to sample fabrication, arising from the need to make extremely chemically uniform phases having the desired composition. This requires prolonged heating at high temperatures to achieve complete solid-state reaction that may result in selective losses due to volatilisation. Incipient melting due to localised eutectic formation and the apparently straightforward task of efficient stoichiometric mixing on a 1 to 10 um scale are other problems which have had to be overcome in sample fabrication.
Charge states, Valence, Crystal structure, Impurities, Perovskite, Solid solutions, Structural chemical analysis, Synthetic rocks, Vacancies, Zirconolite
Vance, E. R., Day, R. A., Begg, B. D., & Blackford, M. G. (1994). Charge compensation mechanisms for aliovalent impurities in perovskite and zirconolite. Paper presented to the 18th Annual Condensed Matter Physics Meeting, Charles Sturt University, Riverina, Wagga, Wagga, NSW, 9-11 February 1994.