PHILIPPE PLAILLY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PHILIPPE PLAILLY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
New way of determining the safe lifespan of nuclear power stations. A screen image from an acoustic microscope of an ageing steel screw after radiation exposure in a reactor core. The damaged areas of steel show up as red grains. The acoustic microscope uses sound waves to see through solid materials like steel. It is able to detect cracks just a few micrometres long. The cracks occur because steel becomes brittle when exposed to neutron radiation. This acoustic microscope was developed by French Electricity (EDF) and the National Council for Scientific Research (CNRS) at Montpelier University, France and first used at Chinon power station, France.
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