Advances in Actinide Thin Films: Synthesis, Properties, and Future Directions

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Actinide-based compounds exhibit unique physics due to the presence of 5f electrons, and serve in many cases as important technological materials. Targeted thin film synthesis of actinide materials has been successful in generating high-purity specimens in which to study individual physical phenomena. These films have enabled the study of the unique electron configuration, strong mass renormalization, and nuclear decay in actinide metals and compounds. The growth of these films, as well as their thermophysical, magnetic, and topological properties, have been studied in a range of chemistries, albeit far fewer than most classes of thin film systems. This relative scarcity is the result of limited source material availability and safety constraints associated with the handling of radioactive materials. Here, we review recent work on the synthesis and characterization of actinide-based thin films in detail, describing both synthesis methods and modeling techniques for these materials. We review reports on pyrometallurgical, solution-based, and vapor deposition methods. We highlight the current state-of-the-art in order to construct a path forward to higher quality actinide thin films and heterostructure devices.