Atomistic Scale Study of Radiation Effects in ABO3 Perovskites

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Materials Science and Engineering

Abstract

Summary
The development of nuclear power is at an important juncture, with two competing but in many ways complementary technologies: fusion and fission. However, while the nuclear methodology is different the engineering challenge is the same, that is, the need to remove the generated heat while structures are subject to high levels of radiation damage and residual nuclear products. In particular, radiation damage effects and gas bubble formation are problematic issues for the development of both fusion and GenIV fission reactors. For example in a GenIV fission core, the Xe and Kr gas comes from fission of the fissile nuclei, that is, Pu and U, while in a fusion core He is formed within the D-T plasma. This proposal aims to address these issues using tunable perovskites, as model materials, and focusing on the following issues:

1. Crystalline to amorphous transformation mechanisms in tunable ceramics instigated using non-radioactive ion beams.
2. Bubble nucleation at micro-structural traps in predominantly fission reactor materials, e.g. oxide based fuels, and ODS materials, but which can be formed by He implantation from fusion plasma He nucleation, and damage in materials for use in fusion cores, such as YBCO superconductors suggested as magnetic containment in for example, ITER and DEMO.

The research will be undertaken using the approach of experimental and simulation techniques combined holistically. The experimental study will utilise in-situ and bulk irradiation, primarily in combination with advanced electron microscopy and atom probe tomography. The complementary simulation programme will be based on irradiated materials, but focusing on recovery mechanisms, bubble evolution, and validation of current models.

The outcomes of the research will be used in the development of new materials for use as both fuels, for example Inert Matrix, or as magnetic containment devices in ITER/DEMO. The information from this research can also be utilised in other non-standard reactor technologies such as the travelling wave designs.

The information derived will also help the design of future waste forms for Pu/U, specifically into new phases capable of tolerating the effects of radiation damage, and He bubble formation.

Planned Impact

For all nuclear materials the progress of radiation damage, whether the material is to be used as a waste form, or within a reactor, needs to be understood as it determins the useful life of the structure. Currently there are many models in the literature outlining the effects of radiation damage, and there are also many outlining the effects of gas bubble evolution. However, there are none that describe the effects of radiation damage, and gas bubble formation together. In combination these effects have dramatic impact on the long-term stability of materials, and greater understanding is demanded if their effects are to be alleviated.

The results from this work will help to overcome this knowledge gap, and will be used to nform the generation of new materials. For example, within a ceramic nuclear fuel, do gas bubbles form first around fission fragments or are the fission fragments attracted to the gas bubbles already formed? This is an important question and not easily answerable, but it is one of the issues that impacts future ceramic fuel development despite having been of concern for many years. This work will directly address this question, as the ability of ion irradiation to irradiate materials under a range of conditions allows the effect of a metal impurity to be studied directly. The results from this work will be used to drive new, and enhanced models for predicting this behaviour, while at the same time provide a mechanism by which current models can be validated, or improved.

During this work we also intend to drive further the effects of radiation damage and gas bubble formation in materials for use within a fusion core, primarily modelling the effects in materials proposed for use as magnetic containment, i.e. superconducting magnets based on the perovskite structure. This is an area of research we will make important contributions to, and provide information that is not only lacking but without which current research is being hampered.

The enhanced examination of ceramic materials using atom-probe tomography is an area where this work will have a large impact. There is currently a limited range of ceramics being investigated by this state of the art method, this work will help to increase its exposure, with methods being developed, and results being presented to wider community. The use of atom probe tomography in nuclear materials science is generally limited to metallic-based systems, this work will show the potential for atom probe tomography for use in ceramics.

During the course of our research, as a group, we must work collectively, with the results from the experimental programme being introduced into, and validating, the modelling programme and while the modelling provides insights and understanding not accessible experimentally. The results from this work will be shared in the traditional manner, that is, though publications and conference presentations. In addition we will build upon our collective collaborations with other groups worldwide studying similar effects: e.g. at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), the Institute for Transuranic research (ITU), the Universities of Tennessee (UT), Michigan (UMich) and the Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives (CEA).

Finally one impact that is often overlooked is the provision of skilled researchers in the field, for example this work will, upon completion, have generated two post doctoral researchers in the fields of radiation damage and atom probe tomography of nuclear materials. Both of these fields are currently demanding more people to work within the UK and thus our project contributes to the UK being world leading in the generation of new nuclear technology.

Publications

10 25 50

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
EP/L005581/1 01/03/2014 14/09/2015 £472,558
EP/L005581/2 Transfer EP/L005581/1 14/12/2015 13/10/2018 £290,217
 
Description The work has highlighted that prediction of radiation damage and gas bubble formation is both complex and diverse. Using predictive modelling and machine learning results have been generated that links radiation damage response with physical parameters.
Exploitation Route The results from the work can be used in predictive codes for damage behaviour going forward.
Sectors Energy

 
Description ANSTO 
Organisation Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation
Country Australia 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Expertise and discussion on the effects of radiation damage in materials, and how they can be ameliorated or designed out.
Collaborator Contribution Provision of analytical facilities
Impact Numerous publications, leading to future funding applications
 
Description ANU 
Organisation Australian National University (ANU)
Country Australia 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Provision of samples, and expertise in the damage/analysis of radiation damage in materials
Collaborator Contribution Irradiation of samples using a range of facilities
Impact Publications and development of funding opportunities
Start Year 2013
 
Description Los Alamos National Laboratory 
Organisation Los Alamos National Laboratory
Country United States 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Free flowing discussions about radiation damage in materials and how they can be examined/determined, and the linking of results from the UK with those collected/predicted in the US.
Collaborator Contribution Provision of expertise in the analysis of data, and source data for modelling and simulation of damage
Impact Development and organisation of joint symposia examining the effects of radiation damage on materials, and how the effects can be predicted
Start Year 2008
 
Description Oak Ridge National Laboratory 
Organisation Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Country United States 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Free flowing discussion of ideas and data for analysis, the development of new research ideas leading to collaborative proposals.
Collaborator Contribution Provision of information, and access to facilities for examination of damaged material.
Impact Joint editorship of a special issue of Journal of Nuclear Materials
Start Year 2014
 
Description St Andrews 
Organisation University of St Andrews
Department School of Chemistry St Andrews
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Transfer of samples, and analytical results across a range of material types, combined with co-evaulation of results and interpretation.
Collaborator Contribution Analysis of samples using MAS NMR, coupled with predictive simulations of results.
Impact Multiple publications over a range of years, joint symposium organisation - leading to the development of a research proposal
 
Description Invited Seminar at Los Alamos National Laboratory 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited talk entitled 'Disorderly Behaviour in Ceramics' at Los Alamos National Laboratory, to an audience of research scientists, leaders, and students.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Invited Seminar at University of Manchester - Dalton Nuclear Institute 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Invited seminar at the Dalton Nuclear Institute at the University of Manchester, giving an overview of the work being undertaken
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Invited talk at Oak Ridge National Laboratory 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Gave an invited talk entitled 'Disorderly Behaviour in Ceramics' at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the US
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Invited talk at the Spring MRS 2016 Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited talk at the Spring MRS 2016 meeting, within the symposium 'Multiscale Behavior of Materials in Extreme Environments', talk entitled 'Unclear Nuclear Materials Development'
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Radiation Damage and Materials - Clearing up Unclear Processes 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited talk at workshop on nuclear materials development, working both with academic and industrial partners. The talk in turn has led onto new collaborative research being initiated and continued.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Workshop in S Korea on nuclear separations and materials 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Workshop on the separation and disposal of radioactive isotopes in nuclear waste, this was the second workshop after the similar event in Sheffield (Feb 2016). The workshop forms part of the joint UK-Korea funded project, and linked with the Solid Phase Extractants for Radionuclide Remediation Network (SPEAR).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016