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Title: An investigation into the formation and stability of dislocation loops in irradiated Zr alloys
Author: Topping, Matthew
ISNI:       0000 0004 6423 4754
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2017
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The present PhD project was carried out as part of an EPSRC Leadership Fellowship for the study of irradiation damage in zirconium alloys. The National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) directly supported the project in terms of additional funding and insightful discussions regarding irradiation damage in zirconium alloys. The research carried out within the project aims to gain a better understanding of both a- and c-loops, formed during irradiation damage in zirconium alloys. A range of techniques have been utilised to assess the morphology and density of the dislocation loops after proton-irradiations. These techniques include transmission electron microscopy (TEM), energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) and line profile analysis (LPA) using synchrotron X-ray diffraction (SXRD) profiles and analysing the data utilizing the extended convolutional multiple whole profile (CMWP) analysis software. The effect of experimental conditions on dislocation loop formation and stability of a-loops during post-irradiation annealing have also been investigated. Proton-irradiations were carried out on the commercial alloys Zircaloy-2, Optimized ZIRLOTM and also on binary Zr-0.1Fe and Zr-0.6Fe alloys. A mechanism has been proposed as to the effect of Fe redistribution on dislocation loop formation. By comparing proton-irradiated Zr-0.1Fe and Zircaloy-2 alloys it was possible to investigate the effect of increased amount of Fe redistribution, which occurs from secondary phase particle (SSP) dissolution, on the microstructural features that develop during irradiation. Zircaloy-2 has a higher density of SPPs and these are more homogenously distributed throughout the matrix in comparison to the Zr3Fe SPPs found in the Zr-0.1Fe alloy. It was found that Fe redistribution facilitates the formation of Fe-rich nano-precipitation. Bright-field STEM imaging has been used to image a- and c-loops and it was found that Zircaloy-2 had a lower dislocation line density compared to Zr-0.1Fe for both types of loops at similar damage levels. Therefore it has been proposed that Fe redistributed from SPPs precipitates in the matrix and the subsequent irradiation-induced precipitates act as annihilation sites for point defects; therefore preventing the formation of new dislocation loops and the growth of existing loops. In order to assess the effect of proton-irradiation temperature on a-loops, Zircaloy-2 and Optimized ZIRLOTM were proton irradiated to 2.3 dpa at 280°C, 350°C and 450°C. It was found that the a-loop density dropped in both alloys as irradiation temperature was increased and the a-loop diameter decreased. The changes in the density and size were more dramatic in Zircaloy-2 and this was explained by the presence of fine irradiation induced clustering of Nb seen in Optimized ZIRLOTM. These trends were calculated from both STEM imaging and CMWP, highlighting the suitability of using CMWP to investigate irradiation-induced dislocations. Finally the stability of the a-loops in proton-irradiated Zr-Fe binary alloys were investigated using novel in-situ SXRD and TEM annealing experiments. From CMWP analysis of the profiles generated during the in-situ annealing of a Zr-0.6Fe 3 dpa sample it was shown that the majority of the annealing takes place between 300°C-400°C. This was highlighted by a period of no change in the dislocation density up to 300°C, after which the density drops dramatically. In-situ annealing of a 1.5 dpa Zr-0.1Fe sample in the TEM allowed for the observation of a-loop gliding along prismatic planes enabling the annealing process taking place between 280°C-450°C, i.e. a similar temperature range at which SXRD analysis indicates the greatest level of annealing.
Supervisor: Preuss, Michael Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BF-STEM ; line profile analysis ; dislocations ; irradiation growth ; irradiation ; Zirconium ; proton-irradiation