SALT LAKE CITY, June 12 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say microscopic mechanical devices that withstand intense radiation and heat can be used in robots dealing with damaged nuclear power plants.
Such devices can withstand high amounts of radiation that can quickly fry silicon-based electronic circuits, University of Utah engineers reported Tuesday.
Such electronic circuits were in robots sent to help contain the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant after Japan's catastrophic 2011 earthquake and tsunami, they said.
"Robots were sent to control the troubled reactors, and they ceased to operate after a few hours because their electronics failed," Utah researcher Massood Tabib-Azar said.
Tabib-Azar and his colleagues have been working on mechanical substitutes for such electronics and showed their devices, known as micro-electro-mechanical systems, kept working despite intense ionizing radiation and heat by dipping them for two hours into the core of the University of Utah's research reactor.
"We have developed a unique technology that keeps on working in the presence of ionizing radiation to provide computation power for critical defense infrastructures," Tabib-Azar said. "Our devices also can be used in deep space applications in the presence of cosmic ionizing radiation, and can help robotics to control troubled nuclear reactors without degradation."
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COLLEGE PARK, Md., June 19 (UPI) --University of Maryland scientists say they've developed an environmentally friendly battery that uses wood as its backbone.