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Optimizing radionuclide sequestration in anion nanotraps with record pertechnetate sorption

The elimination of specific contaminants from competitors poses a significant challenge. Rather than relying on a single direct interaction, the cooperation of multiple functionalities is an emerging strategy for adsorbents design to achieve the required affinity. Here, we describe that the interaction with the target species can be altered by modifying the local environment of the direct contact site, as demonstrated by manipulating the affinity of pyridinium-based anion nanotraps toward pertechnetate. Systematic control of the substituent effect allows the resulting anion nanotraps to combine multiple features, overcoming the long-term challenge of TcO4 segregation under extreme conditions of super acidity and basicity, strong irradiation field, and high ionic strength. The top material exhibits the highest sorption capacity together with record-high extraction efficiencies after a single treatment from conditions relevant to the used nuclear fuel (Hanford tank wastes, 95%) and legacy nuclear wastes (Savannah River Sites, 80%) among materials reported thus far.

Nature Communications volume 10, Article number: 1646 (2019)

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