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The mental conflict occurs because two processes could theoretically happen (electrodeposition of sodium, or electrodeposition of hydrogen), and the theoretically unfavorable one occurs - and not only occurs, but is so favorable that it was used commercially to produce NaOH as EdV noted. So why is the theoretically favored process not favored in this ...

10

Bottom line: there are no simple rules of thumb. To demonstrate this, I will show a round robin of phase diagrams for fcc metals ($\ce{Ag}$, $\ce{Cu}$, $\ce{Au}$, $\ce{Ni}$) with no intermetallic compounds - just fcc solid and liquid. $\ce{Ag}$-$\ce{Au}$, full mutual solubility, liquid and solid enthalpies of mixing pretty close: $\ce{Ag}$-$\ce{Cu}$, with ...

3

Highly and degenerately doped semiconductors and semi-metals can be at least dark in visible light in many cases yet have good electrical conductivity. However it would be a stretch to call them either "metals" or "black" without qualifying those labels. They appear dark in visible light for (superficially at least) the same reason that ...

1

While Field Structured Composites are a thing, they use nano- to micro-scale particles in a polymer matrix, with particle alignment controlled/influenced by applying electric or magnetic fields during curing. Trying to do this at the atomic level, as you ask about above, runs into several problems. These include: Overcoming the desire of the liquid to mix, ...

8

Thanks for asking this question. I'd heard before that Pu was actually more chemically toxic than its toxicity due to its radioactivity, but had never followed up by checking out this claim in detail. tl;dr: Plutonium is very safe unless you grind it up into dust and inhale it, in which case the hazard is probably from radiation, not chemical toxicity. There ...

19

Actual toxicity other than radioactivity is not, as far as I know, very well studied. Quite simply, most of the danger is the radioactivity in general, as well as the toxicity of decay products (uranium and americium). Basic knowledge of biochemistry though suggests that it should be toxic for the same reasons that most high atomic weight metals are, namely ...

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The toxicity is primarily due to radioactivity and to absorption by the body, where that radioactivity can act internally. There is, "significant deposition of plutonium in the liver and in the "actively metabolizing" portion of bone," according to Miner and Schonfeld. Many $\ce{Pu}$ isotopes are primarily alpha-emitters, with "high ...

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