Scientist examines radiation damage in nanostructured materials

(Nanowerk News) A professor in the Purdue College of Engineering examined the potential use of various materials in nuclear reactors in an extensive review article in the journal Progress in Materials Science ("Radiation Damage in Nanostructured Materials").
Zhang said there is a significant demand for advanced materials that can survive high temperature and high doses of radiation. These materials contain significant amount of internal changes, called defect sinks, which are too small to be seen with the naked eye, but may form the next generation of materials used in nuclear reactors.
“Nanostructured materials with abundant internal defect sinks are promising as these materials have shown significantly improved radiation tolerance,” he said. “However, there are many challenges and fundamental science questions that remain to be solved before these materials can have applications in advanced nuclear reactors.”
The 100-page article, which took two years to write, focuses on metallic materials and metal-ceramic compounds and reviews types of internal material defects on the reduction of radiation damage in nanostructured materials.
Various imperfections in nanostructures, called defect sinks
Various imperfections in nanostructures, called defect sinks, can enhance the material’s tolerance to radiation. (Image: Xinghang Zhang) (click on image to enlarge)
Under the extreme radiation conditions, a large number of defects and their clusters are generated inside materials, and such significant microstructure damage often leads to degradation of the mechanical and physical properties of the materials.
The article discusses the usage of a combination of defect sink networks to collaboratively improve the radiation tolerance of nanomaterials, while pointing out the need to improve the thermal and radiation stabilities of the defect sinks.
“The field of radiation damage in nanostructured materials is an exciting and rapidly evolving arena, enriched with challenges and opportunities,” Zhang said. “The integration of extensive research effort, resources and expertise in various fields may eventually lead to the design of advanced nanomaterials with unprecedented radiation tolerance.”
Jin Li, co-author of the review article and a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Materials Engineering, said researchers with different expertise worked collaboratively on the article, which contains more than 100 pages, 100 figures and 700 references.
The team involved in the research article included researchers from Purdue, Texas A&M University, Drexel University, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and China University of Petroleum-Beijing, as well as Sandia National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Idaho National Laboratory.
Source: Brian L. Huchel, Purdue University
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