Structural responses of metallic glasses under neutron irradiation

L Yang and HY Li and PW Wang and SY Wu and GQ Guo and B Liao and QL Guo and XQ Fan and P Huang and HB Lou and FM Guo and QS Zeng and T Sun and Y Ren and LY Chen, SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 7, 16739 (2017).

DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-17099-2

Seeking nuclear materials that possess a high resistance to particle irradiation damage is a long-standing issue. Permanent defects, induced by irradiation, are primary structural changes, the accumulation of which will lead to structural damage and performance degradation in crystalline materials served in nuclear plants. In this work, structural responses of neutron irradiation in metallic glasses (MGs) have been investigated by making a series of experimental measurements, coupled with simulations in ZrCu amorphous alloys. It is found that, compared with crystalline alloys, MGs have some specific structural responses to neutron irradiation. Although neutron irradiation can induce transient vacancy-like defects in MGs, they are fully annihilated after structural relaxation by rearrangement of free volumes. In addition, the rearrangement of free volumes depends strongly on constituent elements. In particular, the change in free volumes occurs around the Zr atoms, rather than the Cu centers. This implies that there is a feasible strategy for identifying glassy materials with high structural stability against neutron irradiation by tailoring the microstructures, the systems, or the compositions in alloys. This work will shed light on the development of materials with high irradiation resistance.

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