Heterogeneous dislocation loop formation near grain boundaries in a neutron-irradiated commercial FeCrAl alloy


FeCrAl alloys are an attractive class of materials for nuclear power applications because of their increased environmental compatibility compared with more traditional nuclear materials. Preliminary studies into the radiation tolerance of FeCrAl alloys under accelerated neutron testing between 300 and 400 °C have shown post-irradiation microstructures containing dislocation loops and a Cr-rich $\alpha$′ phase. Although these initial studies established the post-irradiation microstructures, there was little to no focus on understanding the influence of pre-irradiation microstructures on this response. In this study, a well-annealed commercial FeCrAl alloy, Alkrothal 720, was neutron irradiated to 1.8 displacements per atom (dpa) at 382 °C and then the effect of random high-angle grain boundaries on the spatial distribution and size of a〈100〉 dislocation loops, a/2〈111〉 dislocation loops, and black dot damage was analyzed using on-zone scanning transmission electron microscopy. Results showed a clear heterogeneous dislocation loop formation with a/2〈111〉 dislocation loops showing an increased number density and size, black dot damage showing a significant number density decrease, and a〈100〉 dislocation loops exhibiting an increased size in the vicinity of the grain boundary. These results suggest the importance of the pre-irradiation microstructure and, specifically, defect sink density spacing to the radiation tolerance of FeCrAl alloys.

In: Journal of Nuclear Materials, (483), pp. 54–61, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnucmat.2016.10.050