I have been passionate about research for nuclear power for a long time, as I believe it plays a crucial role in helping to solve the energy crisis, and to limit further global warming. Both fission and fusion power are important for this, the latter being a much longer-term solution.
I recently completed a MEng in Materials Science at the University of Oxford. My fourth-year MEng project investigated refractory high entropy alloys (RHEAs) for structural applications in nuclear fission, such as in reactor fuel cladding. RHEAs are thought to show promise for nuclear applications as they have high temperature strength and good irradiation resistance. However, as I demonstrated in my project, they currently have a critical flaw in which it is difficult to design RHEAs that are both ductile and oxidation resistant. My project investigated the oxidation mechanisms of several RHEAs.
My current PhD project (also based at the University of Oxford) is now looking into materials for fusion power. I will be looking into tungsten, which is used extensively in nuclear fusion due to its high melting point and resistance to plasma erosion. My work will investigate neutron irradiation damage in tungsten to give us a better understanding of the degradation mechanisms in the material, and how this can influence tungsten’s properties. This will involve developing a correlative technique to observe the irradiation damage with both atom probe tomography and transmission electron microscopy. A secondary objective would then be to see how this influences the mechanical properties of tungsten using nanoindentation methods on irradiation damaged regions.
I am very much looking forward to being part of such an important area of research which will help make fusion power more of a reality.