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Calculating Plutonium and Praseodymium Structural Transformations

A newly-developed hybrid computational method has computed, for the first time, plutonium’s exotic crystal structure transformations and additionally calculated the volume-collapse transition of praseodymium.  As plutonium is heated it undergoes six complex crystalline phase transitions—the most of any element at ambient pressure.  Explaining these six different phases has been a long-standing challenge of solid-state physics.  These calculations are the first theoretical description of all of the crystal phases of plutonium that agree with the experimental data.

Insider turns 25 this month

Twenty-five years ago this month, the first issue of Insider rolled off the press. The cover, shown here, featured the Boone and Scenic Valley's Chinese-built steam locomotive. Why? Because an Ames Lab graduate assistant, Ping Liu, coordinated a group of mainland Chinese students who served as interpreters with the Chinese engineers installing the steam engine. You can read the full issue inside.

 

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