We review the present state of understanding of the electronic structure and physical properties of actinide metals and intermetallic compounds as derived from relativistic APW energy band studies of some of the light (Th, U, Np, and Pu) and heavy (Am, Bk, and Cm) metals, the intermetallics URh3 and UIr3 and (NaCl structure compounds such as) UC. Emphasis is placed on the importance of Coulomb correlation and the role of actinide-actinide separation in determining the itinerancy (as in the light metals) or localization (as in the heavy metals) of the 5f electrons and in turn their resulting magnetic and other properties. The UX3 systems considered are significant because the uranium sites are sufficiently separated to fall in the local moment f orbital range of the Hill superconductivity/magnetism plot but show no magnetic ordering. Comparisons to recent optical, de Haas-van Alphen and other data are given when available. The contrasting cases of the transition and rare-earth systems make it clear that the 5f electrons are a unique species which offer exciting challenges to both experimentalists and theorists.
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