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Title: Mechanical behaviour of irradiated tungsten for fusion power
Author: Gibson, James Samuel Kwok-Leon
ISNI:       0000 0004 5359 1342
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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Tungsten will be a key material for the plasma-facing components in future fusion devices. Its mechanical performance under neutron irradiation will strongly influence the lifetime of these devices. Pure tungsten has been subjected to a variety of irradiating species - tungsten ions, helium ions and fission neutrons - between 500°C and 900°C and the change in mechanical properties measured by micro-mechanical testing methods. Pure tungsten has been ion-irradiated using self-ions and helium ions at 500°C and 800°C. Nanoindentation has been performed on all specimens, and the 800°C specimens have been tested at temperatures up to 750°C using high-temperature nanoindentation. The irradiation temperature has no effect on the hardening of tungsten. Hardening from self-ion irradiation has not saturated by 4.5 dpa with an increase in hardness of 3.3 GPa. The hardening from helium implantation is only 0.73 GPa, and a comparison with literature shows that this hardening only depends on the concentration of the injected helium. The difference is likely due to the much smaller defect size of helium-vacancy clusters when compared to dislocation loops. High-temperature nanoindentation shows that helium-implanted tungsten softens rapidly, with the hardening from the radiation damage becoming negligible above 450°C. Self-ion implanted tungsten does not soften by 650°C, again likely due to the size difference of the defects. Micro-mechanical tests - namely micro-cantilever bending - have been used to investigate the plastic and fracture characteristics of tungsten before and after irradiation. Plastic behaviour is dominated by size effects due to the 3 μm depth of the implanted layers, which makes nanoindentation a better method for investigating radiation damaged layers. In fracture testing, fracture is rarely seen. Using the yield stress to calculate fracture toughness, the hardening from irradiation damage results in an increase in fracture toughness from 2.2 MPa√m to 6.0 MPa√m. The work of deformation at 1% is also increased after irradiation from 7.2 x 10-11 Nm to 2.8 x 10-10 Nm, implying that the implanted damage is not leading to an increase in embrittlement by reducing K1c. Neutron irradiated tungsten also shows an increase in fracture toughness after irradiation from 6.5 MPa√m to 14.5 MPa√m. However, the BDTT increases by ∼ 100°C in poly-crystal tungsten and ∼ 500°C in single-crystal tungsten. The difference in BDTT does not exist in the unimplanted material. The change after irradiation is likely due to the fine (˜ 3 μm) grain size and 900°C irradiation temperature causing a significant amount of the displacement damage to be absorbed at the grain boundaries. The hardness of neutron irradiated and ion irradiated tungsten is very close: 10.4 GPa and 11.2 GPa respectively, demonstrating the ions are likely well-representing the neutron damage in pure tungsten.
Supervisor: Roberts, Steve G.; Armstrong, David E. J. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Materials Sciences ; Metallurgy ; Surface mechanical properties ; Fusion ; Tungsten ; Radiation Damage ; Nanoindentation