Nano-Scale Microstructure Damage by Neutron Irradiations in a Novel Boron-11 Enriched TiB₂ Ultra-High Temperature Ceramic


Ultra-high temperature transition-metal ceramics are potential candidates for fusion reactor structural/plasma-facing components. We reveal the irradiation damage microstructural phenomena in Boron-11 enriched titanium diboride (TiB2) using mixed-spectrum neutron irradiations, combined with state-of-art characterization using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and high resolution TEM (HRTEM). Irradiations were performed using High Flux Isotope Reactor at ∼220 and 620 °C up to 2.4 x 1025 n.m−2 (E > 0.1 MeV). Total dose including contribution from residual Boron-10 (10B) transmutation recoils, was ∼4.2 displacements per atom. TiB2 is susceptible to irradiation damage in terms of dislocation loop formation, cavities and anisotropic lattice parameter swelling induced micro-cracking. At both 220 and 620 °C, TEM revealed dislocation loops on basal and prism planes, with nearly two orders of magnitude higher number density of prism-plane loops. HRTEM, electron diffraction and relrod imaging revealed additional defects on {101̅0} prism planes, identified as faulted dislocation loops. High defect cluster density on prism planes explains anisotropic a-lattice parameter swelling of TiB2 reported in literature which caused grain boundary micro-cracking, the extent of which decreased with increasing irradiation temperature. Dominance of irradiation-induced defect clusters on prism planes in TiB2 is different than typical hexagonal ceramics where dislocation loops predominantly form on basal planes causing c-lattice parameter swelling, thereby revealing a potential role of c/a ratio on defect formation/aggregation. Helium generation and temperature rise from residual 10B transmutation caused matrix and grain boundary cavities for the irradiation at 620 °C. The study additionally signifies isotopic enrichment as a viable approach to produce transition-metal diborides for potential nuclear structural applications.


Materials Science and Engineering


The study was supported by the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences, US DOE and IMR Tohoku University under contract DE-AC05-00OR22725 and NFE-13-04416 with UT-Battelle, LLC, respectively.

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CO2 hydrogenation; Cu-ZnO based catalyst; Dimethyl ether (DME); Stability

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