Arthur Charles Wahl

Arthur Charles Wahl

Birth
Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa, USA
Death 6 Mar 2006 (aged 88)
New Mexico, USA
Burial Santa Fe, Santa Fe County, New Mexico, USA
Memorial ID 93606111 · View Source
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SS: State of last residence: New Mexico
State issued: Iowa.

Art was born Sept. 8, 1917 in Des Moines, Iowa. In 1939 he received his Bachelor s Degree in chemistry from Iowa State University. He went to Berkeley for graduate work where he chose to work with Joseph W. Kennedy and Glenn T. Seaborg, to isolate and chemically identify element 94, later named plutonium. Art purified element 93 (later called neptunium) produced by bombardment of uranium with deuterons (d,2n). From the decay of the 2.1-day 23893Np Art, with the aid of detectors built by Kennedy, observed the growth of a long-lived alpha activity. This activity was growing in with a rate characteristic of the half-life of 23893Np. The radiochemical similarity of this alpha activity with thorium demanded that an unambiguous separation from Th be made before assigning it to element 94 (238Pu). Art was trying to identify element 94 by oxidizing it to a higher oxidation state than the IV of thorium. At about midnight Feb. 24,! 1941, Art working alone in Room 307 of Berkeley's Gilman Hall, managed to show that the highest oxidation state of the new alpha activity did not follow the beta-emitting tracer 234Th (UX1). This proved that the new alpha activity was indeed from a new element.

Subsequently Art, now working with Kennedy, Seaborg and Emilio Segrè, purified 23994Pu from 1.2 Kg of uranium oxide, which had been irradiated for two days with neutrons. The purified sample showed another long-lived alpha activity growing in with the known 2.3-day half-life of 23993Np. The 0.5 microgram sample of 23994Pu, prepared by Art with very little carrier and now in the Smithsonian as Sample B , was shown to be fissionable with slow and fast neutrons.

Art received his PhD degree in 1942 for the plutonium identification. The papers, related to this work were withheld from publication until after the conclusion of the war. From 1943-1946 Art was the leader of the group working on plutonium chemistry at Los Alamos. He developed the Pu chemistry and purification procedures central to the success of the Manhattan Project and used on an industrial scale during and long after World War II.


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  • Created by: Jonathan Melusky
  • Added: 14 Jul 2012
  • Find a Grave Memorial 93606111
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Arthur Charles Wahl (8 Sep 1917–6 Mar 2006), Find a Grave Memorial no. 93606111, citing Fairview Cemetery, Santa Fe, Santa Fe County, New Mexico, USA ; Maintained by Jonathan Melusky (contributor 46901953) .