Narrator: This is Science Today. One of the limitations in the handling of nuclear waste in this country has been long-term storage. Materials currently encasing radioactive matter degrade with time, making them prone to rupturing or leaching. But the Los Alamos National Laboratory has developed new radiation-tolerant materials that may eventually solve this problem. Kurt Sickafus, a staff scientist, says they worked with a set of materials called crystalline-ceramic oxides.
Sickafus: There are many people that have studied crystalline oxide as waste forms and we believe we've identified a special subset of ceramic oxides, which have very favorable properties for long-term storage.
Narrator: Basically, these materials' atoms shift around to accommodate defects caused by radiation damage.
Sickafus: Our hope is that this will be an important step to get a number of our colleagues in the study of waste forms to take an interest in crystalline waste forms and in particular, the kinds of structures we've proposed looking at in this study.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.