Nuclear waste recycling technology
- Patent Pending
Professor's Hanson's team has developed a Wavelength Selective Separation of Metal Ions Using Electroactive Ligands
Given the similarity in atomic radius and binding affinities, separating lanthanides and actinides using chelating agents or ion exchange resins can sometimes be challenging. In contrast, lanthanide and actinide atoms/complexes have unique and narrow absorption features that may be useful for photochemical separations. With this in mind, we have recently introduced an entirely new photochemical separation strategy that relies on chemical transformations of the coordinating ligand, rather than the metal ion. Briefly, a ligand functionalized with an electroactive moiety is bound to metal ions in solution. Then, upon wavelength selective excitation of one of the coordination complexes, photoinduced electron transfer to/from the redox active group causes an irreversible reaction that chemically transforms the ligand. The differences in solubility, size, reactivity, etc. between the initial and reacted complexes, and not the properties of the metal ions, can then be used for separations.