Peter C. Burns

Peter C. Burns

Solid State and Environmental Chemistry of Heavy Metals

Biography

2014-present
Director, Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame
2009-present
Director, Energy Frontier Research Center Materials Science of Actinides
2009-present
Henry Massman Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences, University of Notre Dame
2007-present
Concurrent Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Notre Dame
2002-2009
Professor of Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences, University of Notre Dame
2002-present
Special Term Appointment, Chemistry Division, Argonne National Lab
2000-2002
Massman Associate Professor of Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences, University of Notre Dame
1999-2002
Associate Professor of Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences, University of Notre Dame
1997-1999
Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences, University of Notre Dame
1996-1997
Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Geology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
1995-1996
NSERC Post-Doctoral Fellow, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of New Mexico
1994-1995
NSERC Post-Doctoral Fellow, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge
1994
Ph.D. in Geology, University of Manitoba
1990
M.Sc. in Geology, University of Western Ontario
1988
B.Sc. in Geology with Honours, University of New Brunswick

Selected Awards

2016
Peacock Medal of the Mineralogical Association of Canada
2003
Mineral burnsite named by Russian and Canadian scientists
2001
Mineralogical Society of America Award and Life Fellow
1999
Donath Medal of the Geological Society of America
1998
Young Scientist Medal of the Mineralogical Association of Canada
1997
Hawley Medal (best paper award) of the Mineralogical Association of Canada

Research Interests

Burns is Director of the Energy Frontier Research Center Materials Science of Actinides. This EFRC, which is funded by the Department of Energy, includes senior researchers and students at six universities and three national laboratories.  The Center research emphasizes basic research in actinide chemistry and materials science to help create the foundation of knowledge needed for an advanced nuclear energy system of the future.  The Center emphasizes complex actinide materials, the control of actinides at the nano-scale, and actinide materials under extreme environments of pressure, temperature, and radiation field.

Burns’s research focuses on the solid state and environmental chemistry of heavy metals, especially actinides including uranium, neptunium and plutonium. Studies of natural crystals coupled with synthetic approaches are being used to develop the structural hierarchical relationships in actinide compounds. Aggregation of metals in solution, and subsequent crystallization of molecular clusters, is examined using conventional crystallographic techniques coupled with synchrotron X-ray scattering. Current emphasis includes studies of the structures and stabilities of uranium, thorium and plutonium clusters containing as many as 120 metal atoms. Much of this research is applied to nuclear waste disposal and understanding the mobility of actinides and heavy metals in the environment. The structures, compositions, stabilities, and thermochemistry of uranium compounds is studied in relation to the evolution of a geological repository for nuclear waste, as well as natural uranium deposits.

Recent Papers

  • Smith, P.A., Aksenov, S.M., Jablonski, S., Burns, P.C. "Structural unit charge density and molecular cation templating effects on orientational geometric isomerism and interlayer spacing in 2-D uranyl sulfates" 2018 Journal of Solid State Chemistry, 266, pp. 286-296. DOI: 10.1016/j.jssc.2018.07.028
  • Dzik, E.A., Lobeck, H.L., Zhang, L., Burns, P.C. "High-temperature calorimetric measurements of thermodynamic properties of uranyl arsenates of the meta-autunite group" 2018 Chemical Geology, 493, pp. 353-358. DOI: 10.1016/j.chemgeo.2018.06.009
  • Smith, P.A., Hickam, S.M., Szymanowski, J.E.S., Burns, P.C. "Mixed-Valent Cyanoplatinates Featuring Neptunyl-Neptunyl Cation-Cation Interactions" 2018 Inorganic Chemistry, 57 (15), pp. 9504-9514. DOI: 10.1021/acs.inorgchem.8b01500​​​​​​​
  • Hickam, S., Aksenov, S.M., Dembowski, M., Perry, S.N., Traustason, H., Russell, M., Burns, P.C. "Complexity of Uranyl Peroxide Cluster Speciation from Alkali-Directed Oxidative Dissolution of Uranium Dioxide" 2018 Inorganic Chemistry, 57 (15), pp. 9296-9305. DOI: 10.1021/acs.inorgchem.8b01299
  • Smith, P.A., Spano, T.L., Burns, P.C. "Synthesis and structural characterization of a series of uranyl-betaine coordination complexes" 2018 Zeitschrift fur Kristallographie - Crystalline Materials, 233 (7), pp. 507-513. DOI: 10.1515/zkri-2017-2139
  • Zhang, L., Dzik, E.A., Sigmon, G.E., Szymanowski, J.E.S., Navrotsky, A., Burns, P.C. "Experimental thermochemistry of neptunium oxides: Np2O5 and NpO2" 2018 Journal of Nuclear Materials, 501, pp. 398-403. DOI: 10.1016/j.jnucmat.2017.10.034

Contact Information

  • Henry J. Massman Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences; Concurrent Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Office: 301 Stinson-Remick Hall
  • Phone: 6315380
  • Send an email
  • Visit Website

Primary Research Areas

Research Specialties