Izaak started his PhD at University College London (UCL) in October 2013, before moving to Lancaster University to join the Chemical Theory and Computation research section in October 2014. Izaak applied relativistic quantum-chemical simulations using Density Functional Theory (DFT) in order to investigate the subtleties of bonding in series of complexes of the lanthanides and actinides. The ligands in these complexes are of particular interest to the nuclear fuel industry and could provide solutions to problems associated with the continued storage and remediation of spent nuclear fuel. Izaak’s work was partly funded by the Nuclear Decomissioning Authority (NDA) and is performed in collaboration with the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL).
Izaak’s research involved the consideration of whether there is an electronic origin to the selectivity exhibited by ligands used in various solvent extraction processes (such as SANEX) for the separation of lanthanides (Ln) from trivalent minor actinides (An). This work focusses on the bistriazinylpyridine (BTP), bistrianzinylbipyridine (BTBP) and bistriazinylphenanthroline (BTPhen) family of ligands. These ligands can be seen below.