Researchers in the U.K. and Germany have succesfully demonstrated the use of lasers to tackle radioactive waste. The researchers used a 360J laser pulse—with a duration of 0.7 picoseconds and an intensity of 5 × 1020 W/cm2—that helped form gamma rays as it ionized a gold target behind which was a sample of nuclear waste. Transmutation occurred when the gamma rays ejected a neutron from an iodine-129 nucleus to leave behind iodine 128, whose half-life is only 25 minutes, compared with 15.7 million years of iodine 129.
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