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Some Issues

Radionucleotide contaminaiton is one legacy from the U.S. cold war production of nuclear weapons.  Sites like the Hanford nuclear reservation have huge quantities of radiocesium that must be remediated and stored. However, in the post-9/11 period, there is also an emerging concern about the dispersal of radionucleotides from the detonation of a “dirty bomb”.

How can an understanding of electrochemical materials and interfaces help?

Radiocesium is one of the primary contaminants and threats from dirty bombs.  We are developing optimized cesium ion intercalation compounds for:

    (i) Electrochemical sensors that detect dilute cesium, even when there is a large background of other alkali cations that can potentially interfere with the detection. 

    (ii) Electrically switched ion exchange methods that allow decontamination of urban and military infrastructure.



nickel hexacyanoferrate structure

Examples of how we are doing it (Publications)

Kavita Jeerage, Bill Steen, Min Tan, and others have been looking at the development of nanostructured nickel hexacyanoferrate as a matrix for intercalating cesium cations.  Because the matrix is electrochemically reversible, it can be used as a modifying thin film for sensors, or dispersed into a matrix as a coating for decontaminating surfaces.


Our work in this area is largely funded by the Department of Energy, DARPA/Homeland Security, and the National Science Foundation.

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Daniel T. Schwartz, Director
The Electrochemical Materials and Interfaces LAB
Department of Chemical Engineering
 BOX 351750 University of Washington Seattle, WA 98195
E-mail address:
Last updated : 04/05/11