Uranium nanotubes for burying nuclear waste

The scientists in crystallography at St Petersburg University have developed a new type of nanotubes from the atoms of uranium and sulfur for burying nuclear waste.

The study is supported by the Russian Scientific Foundation and published in Nanomaterials.

Before, the nanotubes were synthesized just once: 15 years ago, SPbU Professor and Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Sergei Krivovichev synthesized a similar material from the atoms of selenium, yet the material was rather sensitive due to the chemical properties of selenium when exposed to high temperatures and water. All attempts to synthesize nanotubes from uranium and other chemicals have failed worldwide so far.

The nanotube is a nanostructure with unique chemical properties that have caused researchers and companies to consider using them in several fields. The most popular nanotube is a carbon nanotube that is used in high technology, mostly in electronics and catalysis.

The more stable uranium nanotube with sulfur was synthesized by the SPbU’s scientists by using the research equipment at the SPbU’s Research Park. “Nanotube with uranium and sulfur is less sensitive when exposed to high temperature, and it makes them indispensable for nuclear industry. They can be used for radioactive decay and nuclear waste management”, — said the first author of the article, Doctor of Geology and Mineralogy, SPbU Professor Oleg Siidra.

The nanotube are synthesized by rolling up the layers of uranium and sulfur, and its diameter is 1.5 nanometre.

The research is supported by the grant № 16-17-10085 from the Russian Scientific Foundation.