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Title: BCC metals in extreme environments : modelling the structure and evolution of defects
Author: Gilbert, Mark R.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2697 1630
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2010
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Designing materials for fusion applications is a very challenging problem, requiring detailed understanding of the behaviour of materials under the kinds of extreme conditions expected in a fusion environment. During the lifetime of fusion-reactor components, materials will be subjected to high levels of neutron irradiation, but must still perform effectively at high operating temperatures and under significant loading conditions. Body-centred cubic (bcc) transition metals are some of the most promising candidates for structural materials in fusion because of their relatively high density, which allows for effective neutron-shielding with the minimum volume and mass of material. In this work we perform atomistic simulations on two of the most important of these, Fe and W. In this thesis we describe atomic-scale simulations of defects found in bcc systems. In part I we consider the vacancy and interstitial loop defects that are produced and accumulated as a result of irradiation-induced displacement cascades. We show that vacancy dislocation loops have a critical size below which they are highly unstable relative to planar void defects, and thus offer an explanation as to why they are so rarely seen in TEM observations of irradiated bcc metals. Additionally, we compare the diffusion rates of these vacancy loops to their interstitial counterparts and find that, while interstitial loops are more mobile, the difference in mobility is not as significant as might have been expected. In part II we study screw dislocations, which, as the rate limiting carriers of plastic deformation, are significantly responsible for the strength of materials. We present results from large-scale finite temperature molecular dynamics simulations of screw dislocations under stress and observe the thermally-activated kink-pair formation regime at low stress, which appears to be superseded by a frictional regime at higher stresses. The mobility functions fitted to the results are vital components in simulations of dislocation networks and other large-scale phenomena. Lastly, we develop a multi-string Frenkel-Kontorova model that allows us to study the core structure of screw dislocations. Subtle changes in the form of the interaction laws used in this model demonstrate the difference between the non-degenerate and degenerate core structures. We provide simple criteria to guarantee the correct structure when developing interatomic potentials for bcc metals.
Supervisor: Pettifor, David G. ; Dudarev, Sergei L. ; Derlet, Peter M. Sponsor: EURATOM/CCFE Fusion Association
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Materials modelling ; Atomic scale structure and properties ; Defect analysis ; materials modelling ; atomistic simulations ; radiation damage ; defects in solids