Text & image by MIT
Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have discovered that exposure to proton irradiation can strengthen and extend certain alloys’ lifetime, including nickel-chromium.
The most damaging effect of radiation is its tendency to degrade any material exposed to it. This encourages rapid deterioration and often results in the need to replace key parts in high-radiation environments, such as nuclear reactors.
But new research proffered by MIT researchers shows that, for certain alloys that could be used in fission or fusion reactors, the opposite reaction can occur: instead of speeding up the material’s degradation, radiation actually improves its resistance, potentially doubling the material’s useful lifetime.