As it turned out, radiation is harmful not only for living organisms. Scientists have found that prolonged exposure to radiation on metals makes them brittle, porous, which ultimately leads to their destruction. This problem is especially relevant for nuclear reactors, where safety is one of the main indicators of their operation.
An international team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has found that adding small amounts of carbon nanotubes to a metal makes it resistant to radiation.
The problem is that radioactive particles contribute to the transmutation and cleavage of metal atoms. As a result, miniature helium bubbles form at the bends of metal parts. Just as nitrogen bubbles appear in a diver's blood when they rise quickly to the surface, so helium bubbles accumulate along the boundaries of crystalline grains. In both cases, negative consequences occur.
Scientists have found that the addition of carbon nanotubes to a metal at a content of about 2% of its total volume makes the metal more resistant to radiation. If the nanotubes are evenly distributed, then they form the so-called "filtering one-dimensional transport network". Once in it, the helium bubbles freely come out without destroying the metal.