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Effect of Neutron Flux on an Irradiation-Induced Microstructure and Hardening of Reactor Pressure Vessel Steels

Abstract : The existing knowledge about the effect of neutron irradiation on the mechanical properties of reactor pressure vessel steels under reactor service conditions relies to a large extent on accelerated irradiations realized by exposing steel samples to a higher neutron flux. A deep understanding of flux effects is, therefore, vital for gaining service-relevant insight into the mechanical property degradation. The existing studies on flux effects often suffer from incomplete descriptions of the irradiation-induced microstructure. Our study aims to give a detailed picture of irradiation-induced nanofeatures by applying complementary methods using atom probe tomography, positron annihilation, small-angle neutron scattering and transmission electron microscopy. The characteristics of the irradiation-induced nanofeatures and the dominant factors responsible for the observed increase of Vickers hardness are identified. Microstructural changes due to high flux conditions are smaller nm-sized solute atom clusters with almost the same volume fraction and a higher concentration of vacancies and sub-nm vacancy clusters compared to low flux conditions. The results rationalize why pronounced flux effects on the nanofeatures, in particular on solute atom clusters, only give rise to small or moderate flux effects on hardening.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, March 1, 2022 - 2:30:39 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, March 2, 2022 - 3:35:11 AM

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Andreas Ulbricht, Mercedes Hernández-Mayoral, Elvira Oñorbe, Auriane Etienne, Bertrand Radiguet, et al.. Effect of Neutron Flux on an Irradiation-Induced Microstructure and Hardening of Reactor Pressure Vessel Steels. Metals, MDPI, 2022, 12 (3), pp.369. ⟨10.3390/met12030369⟩. ⟨hal-03592582⟩

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