Atomistic simulations of thermodynamic properties of Xe gas bubbles in U10Mo fuels

SY Hu and W Setyawan and VV Joshi and CA Lavender, JOURNAL OF NUCLEAR MATERIALS, 490, 49-58 (2017).

DOI: 10.1016/j.jnucmat.2017.04.016

Xe gas bubble superlattice formation is observed in irradiated uranium-10 wt% molybdenum (U10Mo) fuels. However, the thermodynamic properties of the bubbles (the relationship among bubble size, equilibrium Xe concentration, and bubble pressure) and the mechanisms of bubble superlattice formation are not well known. In this work, the molecular dynamics (MD) method is used to study these properties and mechanisms. The results provide important inputs for quantitative mesoscale models of gas bubble evolution and fuel performance. In the MD simulations, the embedded-atom method (EAM) potential of U10Mo-Xe 1 is employed. Initial gas bubbles with a low Xe concentration (underpressured) are generated in a body-centered cubic (bcc) U10Mo single crystal. Then Xe atoms are sequentially added into the bubbles one by one, and the evolution of pressure and dislocation emission around the bubbles is analyzed. The relationship between pressure, equilibrium Xe concentration, and radius of the bubbles is established. It was found that an overpressured gas bubble emits partial dislocations with a Burgers vector along the < 111 > direction and a slip plane of (11-2). Meanwhile, dislocation loop punch out was not observed. The overpressured bubble also induces an anisotropic stress field. A tensile stress was found along < 110 > directions around the bubble, favoring the nucleation and formation of a face centered cubic bubble superlattice in bcc U10Mo fuels. (C) 2017 Published by Elsevier B.V.

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