Safety first ... the reactor core of the Gosgen Nuclear Power Plant (Photo: Kernkraftwerk Gosgen-Daniken AG / Creative Commons)
One of the key challenges when designing nuclear reactors is finding materials that can withstand the massive temperatures, radiation, physical stress and corrosive conditions of these extreme environments. Exposure to high radiation alone produces significant damage at the nanoscale, so scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico, have been working on a mechanism that allows nanocrystalline materials to heal themselves after suffering radiation-induced damage. This gives hope for materials that will improve the reliability, safety and lifespan of nuclear energy systems.
Other Images from this Gallery