The thermodynamic and kinetic interactions of He interstitial clusters with bubbles in W

D Perez and L Sandoval and BP Uberuaga and AF Voter, JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSICS, 119, 203301 (2016).

DOI: 10.1063/1.4951706

Due to its enviable properties, tungsten is a leading candidate plasma facing material in nuclear fusion reactors. However, like many other metals, tungsten is known to be affected by the high doses of helium atoms incoming from the plasma. Indeed, the implanted interstitial helium atoms cluster together and, upon reaching a critical cluster size, convert into substitutional nanoscale He bubbles. These bubbles then grow by absorbing further interstitial clusters from the matrix. This process can lead to deleterious changes in microstructure, degradation of mechanical properties, and contamination of the plasma. In order to better understand the growth process, we use traditional and accelerated molecular dynamics simulations to investigate the interactions between interstitial He clusters and pre-existing bubbles. These interactions are characterized in terms of thermodynamics and kinetics. We show that the proximity of the bubble leads to an enhancement of the trap mutation rate and, consequently, to the nucleation of satellite bubbles in the neighborhood of existing ones. We also uncover a number of mechanisms that can lead to the subsequent annihilation of such satellite nanobubbles. Published by AIP Publishing.

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