Date of Defense

Spring 4-21-2004



First Advisor

Clement Burns, Physics

Second Advisor

Gerald Hardie, Physics

Third Advisor

Lisa Paulius, Physics


Deceptively simple yet intriguingly complex, metal-ammonia solutions have fascinated scientists for nearly two centuries. A straightforward solution process of alkali and alkaline-earth metals in pure ammonia yields a brilliant blue hue for dilute solutions and a metallic bronze luster for concentrated solutions. Some of these systems have densities lower than that of pure ammonia; each system displays a metal-insulator transition and has unique magnetic and electrical properties. In addition, possible high-temperature superconductivity has been observed in sodium-ammonia systems. Though these results have been sporadically reproducible at best, the possibility of superconductivity sparked a flurry of activity, resulting in a theory of superconductivity that, while inaccurate, essentially anticipated the modern BCS (Bardeen, Cooper, and Schrieffer) theory by over a decade. The extensive study of metal-ammonia systems has also led to their use in a number of synthetic processes, both inorganic and organic. Metal-ammonia systems are powerful reducing agents, allowing the synthesis of compounds and complexes in unprecedentedly low oxidation states. These reducing properties can also be used to generate unusual nucleophiles.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Campus Only