Irradiation damage in nuclear graphite at the atomic scale

A Chartier and L Van Brutzel and J Pageot, CARBON, 133, 224-231 (2018).

DOI: 10.1016/j.carbon.2018.03.024

Microstructures of nuclear graphite have been investigated based on the analysis of both X-ray diffraction patterns and High Resolution Transmission Electron Microscopy images (HRTEM) from experiments and from molecular dynamics simulations. One filler particle - composed of almost aligned crystallites separated by Mrozowski cracks - and the whole sequence of single crystal graphite irradiated from its virgin state up to highly damaged (64.5% of defects) have been simulated. Simulations are assessed against experiments based on the analysis of its microstructures extracted with Bragg's law and Scherrer's equation applied to simulated X-ray diffraction patterns. In particular, the evolution of cell parameters with defect concentration generated by irradiation agrees well with experimental observations. Simulated HRTEM images show many features observed in experimental images in both virgin and irradiated French nuclear graphite. Some of these features can be linked unequivocally to defined atomistic configurations. Basal grain boundaries (GBs), Mrozowski cracks, graphene sheets and their folding belong to this category. Conversely, some patterns in simulated HRTEM cannot be related to a unique atomistic configuration and might eventually give rise to misleading interpretation. This is evidenced for edge dislocations in virgin nuclear graphite as well as for residues of graphene layers in highly damaged graphite. (C) 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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