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Crystal Impervious to Radiation Could be Used in Spaceship Computers

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Semiconductors are used in electronics, but are vulnerable to radiation.

Said Andrej Kuznetsov at the University of Oslo in Norway, “What we discovered is really a new sort of material that tolerates unprecedented amounts of radiation damage."

Credit: Yuichiro Chino/Getty Images

A crystal that can resist incredibly high doses of radiation could be used to build durable electronics for space travel or nuclear reactors.

When particle radiation hits a semiconductor – the conductive materials used to make electronics – it can knock atoms out of place, changing the material's properties. This means that electronic devices in high radiation environments must be made more robust. One compound that has shown promise is gallium oxide, a semiconductor that can take five different crystalline forms.

Now, Andrej Kuznetsov at the University of Oslo in Norway and his colleagues have found that when two of gallium oxide's crystal forms, called the beta and gamma phases, exist in the same material side by side, the combination can withstand extremely high doses of heavy ion radiation, which are highly energetic charged particles typically ejected from stars as cosmic rays.

From New Scientist
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