A Classical Thermodynamic approach to Void Nucleation in Irradiated Materials

R. Kemp, G. A. Cottrell and H. K. D. H. Bhadeshia


One of the major problems in building a future fusion power station is the development of suitable structural materials. These materials will be exposed to high-energy neutron bombardment, with consequent changes in their mechanical properties - embrittlement, hardening, and swelling, for example. A missing link in modelling these effects is an effective treatment of the nucleation of voids under irradiation. These voids are initially stabilised by transmutation helium but, once formed, grow by vacancy accumulation. In this paper, a quasichemical model is developed to calculate the entropy of a steel/helium system. Although a substantial contribution from quasi-chemical effects might be expected, the steady-state concentrations of dissolved helium are found to be too low for such effects to manifest. The steady-state concentration of dissolved helium is low in absolute terms, but the resulting supersaturation is very high, making it reasonable to assume that all available nucleation sites are instantaneously activated.

Energy Materials 1 (2006) 103-105

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