Properties of He clustering in alpha-Fe grain boundaries

L Zhang and CC Fu and E Hayward and GH Lu, JOURNAL OF NUCLEAR MATERIALS, 459, 247-258 (2015).

DOI: 10.1016/j.jnucmat.2015.01.008

Classical molecular dynamics and density functional theory calculations are performed to study the impact of two distinct Fe grain boundaries (GBs) on the clustering properties of helium (He) and the possible He effect on GB decohesion. Several He concentrations are considered. Common properties of He clustering are found for the both GBs, which are visibly different from the bcc bulk. In particular, He clusters in the GBs are always elongated in the directions parallel to the interface and contracted in the direction normal to the GB plane, while they are isotropic in the bcc bulk. When the He number in the clusters is sufficiently large, the strong local pressure promotes the occurrence of loop punching, which is easier to trigger in the GBs than in the bulk, resulting in a lower He-to-vacancy ratio in the GB clusters. The emitted self-interstitial atoms (SIAs) can more easily dissociate from the clusters in the GBs than in the bulk, leading to relatively lower local pressures around the clusters in the GBs, and facilitating the clusters growth. He is found to decrease GB cohesion, and the embrittling effect of He increases with its concentration. But interestingly, this effect decreases with He clustering. The present findings are fully compatible with existing experimental evidence, for instance, for a stronger GB embrittlement due to He at rather low temperatures than at higher temperatures. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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