The synthesis of actinide tetraborides including uranium tetraboride (UB.sub.4), plutonium tetraboride (PuB.sub.4) and thorium tetraboride (ThB.sub.4) by a solid-state metathesis reaction are demonstrated. The present method significantly lowers the temperature required to .ltoreq.850.degree. C. As an example, when UCl.sub.4 is reacted with an excess of MgB.sub.2, at 850.degree. C., crystalline UB.sub.4 is formed. Powder X-ray diffraction and ICP-AES data support the reduction of UCl.sub.3 as the initial step in the reaction. The UB.sub.4 product is purified by washing water and drying.
This invention was made with government support under Contract No. W7405-ENG-36 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy to The Regents of The University of California. The government has certain rights in the invention.