Mechanical Properties and Radiation Tolerance of Metallic Multilayers
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High energy neutron and proton radiation can induce serious damage in structural metals, including void swelling and embrittlement. Hence the design of advanced metallic materials with significantly enhanced radiation tolerance is critical for the application of advanced nuclear energy systems. The goals of this dissertation are to examine the fundamental physical mechanisms that determine the responses of certain metallic multilayers, with ultra-high density interface structures, to plastic deformation and high fluence He ion irradiation conditions. This dissertation focuses on the investigation of mechanical and radiation responses of Al/Nb and Fe/W multilayers. Radiation induced microstructural evolution in Cu and Cu/Mo multilayer films are briefly investigated for comparisons. Al/Nb multilayer films were synthesized by magnetron sputtering at room temperature. The interface is of Kurdjumov-Sachs orientation relationship. In situ nanoindentation inside a transmission electron microscope (TEM) reveal that interfaces act as strong barriers for dislocation transmission and dislocations climb along the Al/Nb interfaces at a much higher velocity than in bulk. The evolution of microstructure and mechanical properties of Al/Nb multilayers has been investigated after helium ion irradiations: 100 keV He+ ions with a dose of 6x10^16/cm2. When layer thickness, h, is greater than 25 nm, hardness barely changes, whereas radiation hardening is more significant at smaller h. This study shows that miscible fcc/bcc interface with large positive heat of mixing is not stable during ion irradiation. In parallel we investigate sputtered Fe/W multilayers. Film hardness increases with decreasing h, and approaches a maximum of 12.5 GPa when h = 1 nm. After radiation, radiation hardening is observed in specimens when h >/= 5 nm, however, hardness barely changes in irradiated Fe/W 1 nm specimens due to intermixing. In comparison, Cu/Mo 5 nm multilayers with immiscible interface has also been investigated after helium ion irradiations. Interfaces exhibit significantly higher helium solubility than bulk. He/vacancy ratio affects the formation and distribution of He bubbles. The greater diameter of He bubbles in Cu than Mo originates from the ease of bubble growth in Cu via punching of interstitial loops. Finally, helium bubble migration and growth mechanisms were investigated in irradiated Cu (100) single crystal films via in situ heating inside a TEM. The activation energy for bubble growth is ~ 0.02 eV at low temperature. At higher temperatures, the activation energy for bubble coalescence is ~ 0.22 eV inside crystal, and 0.34 eV close to surface. The migration mechanisms of helium bubbles involve continuous as well as Brownian movement.
Li, Nan (2010). Mechanical Properties and Radiation Tolerance of Metallic Multilayers. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from