By 1911, the atomic weight of uranium had been refined to 238.5 (Gmelin, vol. A2, 1980a). The natural isotope 235U was discovered in 1935 by mass spectrometry. The artificial isotope 239U, which is the precursor of 239Np and 239Pu, was postulated and identified by Hahn and coworkers (Hahn et al., 1937; Meitner et al., 1937) as a 23 min half-life intermediate to transuranium elements that were not identified until the famous studies of Seaborg and coworkers 3 years later.
Despite these important discoveries, the crucial importance of uranium was not established until Hahn and Strassman (1939) discovered nuclear fission in late 1938. Since then, the chemistry, materials science, and nuclear properties of uranium have occupied a central position in the field of nuclear energy. Most schemes so far proposed for the release of nuclear energy involve the naturally occurring fissionable 235U, fertile 238U, or the artificial fissionable 233U in one way or another, so that the chemistry and technology of uranium have become of great scientific and technical importance. For these reasons many reviews dealing with uranium chemistry, technology, and metallurgy have been published. The main volume on uranium of the Gmelin Handbook of Inorganic Chemistry (Gmelin, 1936) and a chapter by Mellor (1932) are the earliest comprehensive reviews of uranium chemistry prior to the discovery of fission. The Manhattan Project work was summarized in a number of volumes of the National Nuclear Energy Series (Katz and Rabinowitch, 1951, 1958; Seaborg and Katzin, 1951; Vance and Warner, 1951; Katzin, 1952; Warner, 1953; Wilkinson, 1962). These volumes deal with the chemistry of uranium and its compounds, 233U, metallurgy, and technology of uranium, respectively. The most recent monograph on the chemistry of uranium is that by Cordfunke (1969). The most comprehensive treatment of all phases of uranium chemistry is the multi-volume uranium supplement to the Gmelin Handbook of Inorganic Chemistry (1975–1996)
KeywordsThermal Ionization Mass Spectrometry Uranium Oxide Uranium Dioxide Uranium Atom Uranium Metal
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