Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools
Log in
Home > Profiles > Peter Burns

Peter C. Burns

Peter Burns

Contact Info

Phone: 574-631-7852

Summary of Activities/Interests

Peter C. Burns has focused most of his research over the past decade on the solid-state chemistry, mineralogy, and environmental chemistry of uranium, as well as the transuranic elements neptunium and plutonium.

In 2005 the Burns research group published the first of a family of novel uranyl peroxide hydroxide spherical nanoclusters. To date, we have reported the synthesis and structures of nanoclusters containing 24, 28, 32, 40 and 50 uranium atoms. Additional papers will be forthcoming that report U16, U20 (multiple topologies), U24 (open), U36, U44 and U60. We will also be completing a "roadmap" for the synthesis of specific members of this complex family of actinide nano-scale clusters.

The Burns group has published extensively in uranium mineralogy, and has reported the crystal structures of dozens of uranyl minerals including autunite, bijvoetite, vandendriesscheite, wolsendorfite, boltwoodite, compreignacite, masuyite, haweeite, weeksite, fontanite, billietite, richetite, zippeite, and studtite.

The structure of studtite, reported by Burns and Kubatko (2003) is the first structure of a peroxide mineral, and the only one published to date. As reported by Kubatko et al. (2003) in Science, studtite forms in nature where radioactivity causes the formation of peroxide in water. Studtite was the first structure found that involved shared edges between any uranyl peroxide polyhedra, and the Burns group later developed a complex group of nano-structured uranium materials based upon this linkage.

The Burns group has examined the impacts of uranium mineralogy on the release of radionuclides from nuclear waste in a geological repository, such as Yucca Mountain. Much of the emphasis has been on neptunium, as it has a long half-life and is potentially mobile in the environment.

Burns has published extensively on borate mineralogy, copper minerals, and a variety of exotic new minerals. He has published structural hierarchies for borate minerals, sulfate minerals, inorganic uranium compounds, and inorganic neptunium compounds.


Ph.D. (Geology) (1994) University of Manitoba

Ph.D. Thesis: The Stereochemistry of Cu2+ Oxysalt Minerals: An Ab Initio Molecular-Orbital Approach

M.Sc. (Geology) (1990) University of Western Ontario

M.Sc. Thesis: Tetrahedral-Site Ordering in Synthetic Gallium Albite

B.Sc. (Honours) (1988) University of New Brunswick

B.Sc. Thesis: Hexaborates From the Cassidy Lake Formation, Sussex, New Brunswick


Professional Experience

Committees to Render Scientific Judgement


Recent Publication

Sigmon, G.E., Ling, J., Unruh, D.K., Moore-Shay, L., Ward, M., Weaver, B. & Burns, P.C.: Uranyl-peroxide interactions favor nano-cluster self-assembly. Journal of the American Chemical Society 131, 16648-16649.
Sigmon, G.E., Weaver, B., Kubatko, K.A. & Burns, P.C. (2009): Crown and bowl-shaped clusters of uranyl polyhedra. Inorganic Chemistry 48, 10907-10909.
Gorman-Lewis, D., Shvareva, T., Kubatko, K.A., Burns, P.C., Wellman, D.M., McNamara, B., Szymanowski, J.E.S., Navrotsky, A. & Fein, J.B. (2009): Thermodynamic properties of autunite, uranyl hydrogen phosphate, and uranyl orthophosphate from solubility and calorimetric measurements. Environmental Science and Technology 43, 7416-7422.
Sigmon, G., Unruh, D.K., Ling, J., Weaver, B., Ward, M., Pressprich, L., Simonetti, A. & Burns, P.C. (2009): Symmetry vs. minimal pentagonal adjacencies in uranium-based polyoxometalate fullerene topologies. Angewandte Chemie International Edition 48, 2737-2740. Highlighted in Nature March 20, 2009.
Unruh, D., Burtner, A. & Burns, P.C. (2009): Monodentate peroxide coordination in trimers of U6+ polyhedra. Inorganic Chemistry 48, 2346-2348.
Schindler, M., Freund, M., Hawthorne, F.C., Burns, P.C. and Maurice, P.A. (2009): Dissolution of uranophane: An AFM, XPS, SEM and ICP study. Ge ochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 73, 2510-2533.
Schindler, M., Hawthorne, F.C., Freund, M.S. and Burns, P.C. (2009): XPS spectra of uranyl-minerals and synthetic uranyl compounds II. The O 1s spectrum. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 73, 2488-2509.
Schindler, M., Hawthorne, F.C., Freund, M.S. & Burns, P.C. (2009): XPS spectra of uranyl minerals and synthetic uranyl compounds I. The U 4f spectrum. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 73, 2471-2487.