Irradiation deformation near different atomic grain boundaries in alpha- Zr: An investigation of thermodynamics and kinetics of point defects

A Arjhangmehr and SAH Feghhi, SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 6, 23333 (2016).

DOI: 10.1038/srep23333

Understanding radiation performance of nanocrystalline Zr-based alloys is essential to develop internal components and external cladding materials with self-healing capabilities for longer and safer life cycles in harsh reactor environments. However, the precise role of interfaces in modifying defect production and evolution in alpha-Zr is not yet determined. Using atomistic simulation methods, we investigate the influence of different atomic grain boundaries (GBs) in thermodynamic and kinetic properties of defects on short timescales. We observe that the sink efficiency and sink strength of interfaces vary significantly with the boundary structures, with a preference to absorb interstitials (vacancies) when the GBs are semi-parallel (semi- perpendicular) relative to the basal planes. Further, we identify three distinct primary cascade geometries, and find that the residual defect clustering in grain interiors depends on how the atomic GBs modify the spatial distribution of defects within the crystal structure. Finally, we explain and discuss the dynamic results in terms of energetic and kinetic behaviors of defects near the pristine and damaged boundaries. Eventually, these will provide a microscopic reference for further improving the radiation response of Zr by using fine grains or by introducing a high density of dispersoids in material metallurgy.

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