Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Physics and Astronomy

First Committee Member

Andrew L. Cornelius

Second Committee Member

Michael Pravica

Third Committee Member

Ravhi S. Kumar

Fourth Committee Member

Thomas Hartmann

Number of Pages



Investigations into f- electron heavy-fermion materials have revealed a wide range of novel behavior. Hydrostatic pressure is a valuable "clean" non-thermal parameter that can be used to systematically study them by tuning their ground state properties. The rare earth compound CeCu2Ge2 shows an unusual two-domed region of unconventional superconductivity under pressure, similar to its isostructural counterpart CeCu2Si2. While the lower pressure dome at about 10 GPa is caused by a magnetic quantum critical point (QCP), the higher one at about 16 GPa is less well understood. Previous structural measurements have indicated that it may be caused by critical valence fluctuations, so in this study the valence of CeCu2Ge2 is directly measured using X-ray Absorption Near Edge Spectroscopy (XANES) under pressure in a diamond anvil cell up to 20 GPa. An expected valence discontinuity is not seen, but comparisons to CeCu2Si2 show interesting similarities. Uranium's 5f electrons are intermediate between localized and delocalized. Studying the degree of localization is vital to completely understand the properties of actinides. Performing XANES and Partial Florescence Yield (PFY) measurements in a diamond anvil cell to tune the distance between uranium atoms, I have measured the energy shift in the white line of UCu2Si2, U3Ni5Al19, and UCd11 with pressure. A positive shift in energy indicated a delocalization of 5f electrons, a change in 5f configurations, or a combination of both.



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Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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