Crystal orientation effects on helium ion depth distributions and adatom formation processes in plasma-facing tungsten

KD Hammond and BD Wirth, JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSICS, 116, 143301 (2014).

DOI: 10.1063/1.4897419

We present atomistic simulations that show the effect of surface orientation on helium depth distributions and surface feature formation as a result of low-energy helium plasma exposure. We find a pronounced effect of surface orientation on the initial depth of implanted helium ions, as well as a difference in reflection and helium retention across different surface orientations. Our results indicate that single helium interstitials are sufficient to induce the formation of adatom/substitutional helium pairs under certain highly corrugated tungsten surfaces, such as 1 1 1-orientations, leading to the formation of a relatively concentrated layer of immobile helium immediately below the surface. The energies involved for helium-induced adatom formation on 1 1 1 and 2 1 1 surfaces are exoergic for even a single adatom very close to the surface, while 0 0 1 and 0 1 1 surfaces require two or even three helium atoms in a cluster before a substitutional helium cluster and adatom will form with reasonable probability. This phenomenon results in much higher initial helium retention during helium plasma exposure to 1 1 1 and 2 1 1 tungsten surfaces than is observed for 0 0 1 or 0 1 1 surfaces and is much higher than can be attributed to differences in the initial depth distributions alone. The layer thus formed may serve as nucleation sites for further bubble formation and growth or as a source of material embrittlement or fatigue, which may have implications for the formation of tungsten "fuzz" in plasma-facing divertors for magnetic-confinement nuclear fusion reactors and/or the lifetime of such divertors. (C) 2014 AIP Publishing LLC.

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