Impact of neutron irradiation on thermal helium desorption from iron


The synergistic effect of neutron irradiation and transmutant helium production is an important concern for the application of iron-based alloys as structural materials in fission and fusion reactors. In this study, we investigated the impact of neutron irradiation on thermal helium desorption behavior in high purity iron. Single crystalline and polycrystalline iron samples were neutron irradiated in HFIR to 5 dpa at 300 °C and in BOR-60 to 16.6 dpa at 386 °C, respectively. Following neutron irradiation, 10 keV He ion implantation was performed at room temperature on both samples to a fluence of 7 × 1018 He/m2. Thermal desorption spectrometry (TDS) was conducted to assess the helium diffusion and clustering kinetics by analyzing the desorption spectra. The comparison of He desorption spectra between unirradiated and neutron irradiated samples showed that the major He desorption peaks shift to higher temperatures for the neutron-irradiated iron samples, implying that strong trapping sites for He were produced during neutron irradiation, which appeared to be nm-sized cavities through TEM examination. The underlying mechanisms controlling the helium trapping and desorption behavior were deduced by assessing changes in the microstructure, as characterized by TEM, of the neutron irradiated samples before and after TDS measurements.

In: Journal of Nuclear Materials, (489), pp. 109–117,