Multiscale High Temperature Mechanical Performance of Materials for Nuclear Fusion (materials strand project)

Supervisor/s – David Armstrong and Angus Wilkinson (University of Oxford). Chris Hardie (UKAEA).

Future nuclear power systems, both fission and fusion, rely on the development of materials which can withstand some of the most extreme engineering environments. These include temperatures up to 1500oC, high fluxes of high energy neutrons and effects of gaseous elements produced by transmutation and implantation from the plasmas. Due to efforts to minimise the production of nuclear waste by such reactors the range of elements which may be used in structural components is limited and in many cases there is a lack of understanding of the basic deformation processes occur in ether pure materials or alloys and importantly how these are affected by temperature, radiation damage and gas content.

Progress in reactor material development is hampered by lack of data on neutron irradiated materials and a lack of validated small scale (100’s of nm to 100’s of micron length scale) testing methods.

This project will focus on tensile deformation of ion irradiated model alloys (exact alloy class to be determined with the student) to 1) develop well validated microscale tensile testing methods for use in irradiated materials: 2) understand the interaction between irradiation damage and plastic deformation in the alloy system of choice.

Ion irradiation (both heavy ion and or light ion) will be performed at a range of UK facilities in the UK National Ion Beam Facility.

The mechanical testing will be done in situ using both a small-scale conventional loading Deben rig and a Hysitron Picoindeter for pulling microscale tensile bars. Facilities to be used to study deformed samples include FIB-SEM and FEG-SEM with EBSD. HR-EBSD, DIC and AFM will be used to study deformation structures produced during testing and to inform strain gradient crystal plasticity finite element and discrete dislocation models. This will allow for a fuller understanding of the underlying physics of deformation in these materials both before and after irradiation or gas implantation. Strong links will be made to activities within the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy.

Student based at: Oxford Materials

This project is offered by The University of Oxford. For further information please contact: David.armstrong@materials.ox.ac.uk

This project is not compatible with part time study.