More effective radiation protection will be very useful for space exploration and for reducing radiation deaths in the event of nuclear bombs or nuclear accidents. Radiation protection that is vastly improved could increase the widespread beneficial uses of nuclear power and nuclear technology for space, energy and transportation.
There are six categories of radiation protection/technology that all seem to be improving.
1. The anti-radiation damage drugs of which the James Tour one is the highest potential. There are others.
A nine month study was commissioned (Jan 2008) after preliminary tests found the drug was greater than 5,000 times more effective at reducing the effects of acute radiation injury than the most effective drugs currently available.
“More than half of those who suffer acute radiation injury die within 30 days, not from the initial radioactive particles themselves but from the devastation they cause in the immune system, the gastrointestinal tract and other parts of the body,” said James Tour, Rice’s Chao Professor of Chemistry, director of Rice’s Carbon Nanotechnology Laboratory (CNL) and principal investigator on the grant. “Ideally, we’d like to develop a drug that can be administered within 12 hours of exposure and prevent deaths from what are currently fatal exposure doses of ionizing radiation.”
2. Radiation immunity enhancement. Several gene therapy and drug treatments that could make what would have been 50% fatality down to 20% or less.
3. New physical materials. Like graphene and nanotubes with high hydrogen doping levels. Optimized shielding for space radiation protection
5. Materials for converting radiation directly into electricity.
6. Metamaterials can guide electromagnetic waves around objects for invisibility. They could also guide certain wavelike radiation around objects. The metamaterials that they are trying to use to make objects invisible to light and sound.