Document Detail

Quantum oscillations of nitrogen atoms in uranium nitride.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  23047682     Owner:  NLM     Status:  In-Data-Review    
The vibrational excitations of crystalline solids corresponding to acoustic or optic one-phonon modes appear as sharp features in measurements such as neutron spectroscopy. In contrast, many-phonon excitations generally produce a complicated, weak and featureless response. Here we present time-of-flight neutron scattering measurements for the binary solid uranium nitride, showing well-defined, equally spaced, high-energy vibrational modes in addition to the usual phonons. The spectrum is that of a single atom, isotropic quantum harmonic oscillator and characterizes independent motions of light nitrogen atoms, each found in an octahedral cage of heavy uranium atoms. This is an unexpected and beautiful experimental realization of one of the fundamental, exactly solvable problems in quantum mechanics. There are also practical implications, as the oscillator modes must be accounted for in the design of generation IV nuclear reactors that plan to use uranium nitride as a fuel.
A A Aczel; G E Granroth; G J Macdougall; W J L Buyers; D L Abernathy; G D Samolyuk; G M Stocks; S E Nagler
Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Nature communications     Volume:  3     ISSN:  2041-1723     ISO Abbreviation:  Nat Commun     Publication Date:  2012 Oct 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2012-10-10     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  101528555     Medline TA:  Nat Commun     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  1124     Citation Subset:  IM    
Quantum Condensed Matter Division, Neutron Sciences Directorate, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37831, USA.
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