Molecular-dynamics analysis of mobile helium cluster reactions near surfaces of plasma-exposed tungsten

L Hu and KD Hammond and BD Wirth and D Maroudas, JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSICS, 118, 163301 (2015).

DOI: 10.1063/1.4933393

We report the results of a systematic atomic-scale analysis of the reactions of small mobile helium clusters (Hen, 4 <= n <= 7) near low- Miller-index tungsten (W) surfaces, aiming at a fundamental understanding of the near-surface dynamics of helium-carrying species in plasma-exposed tungsten. These small mobile helium clusters are attracted to the surface and migrate to the surface by Fickian diffusion and drift due to the thermodynamic driving force for surface segregation. As the clusters migrate toward the surface, trap mutation (TM) and cluster dissociation reactions are activated at rates higher than in the bulk. TM produces W adatoms and immobile complexes of helium clusters surrounding W vacancies located within the lattice planes at a short distance from the surface. These reactions are identified and characterized in detail based on the analysis of a large number of molecular-dynamics trajectories for each such mobile cluster near W(100), W(110), and W(111) surfaces. TM is found to be the dominant cluster reaction for all cluster and surface combinations, except for the He-4 and He-5 clusters near W(100) where cluster partial dissociation following TM dominates. We find that there exists a critical cluster size, n = 4 near W(100) and W(111) and n = 5 near W(110), beyond which the formation of multiple W adatoms and vacancies in the TM reactions is observed. The identified cluster reactions are responsible for important structural, morphological, and compositional features in the plasma-exposed tungsten, including surface adatom populations, near-surface immobile helium-vacancy complexes, and retained helium content, which are expected to influence the amount of hydrogen re-cycling and tritium retention in fusion tokamaks. (C) 2015 AIP Publishing LLC.

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