High-Fluence Multi-Energy Ion Irradiation for Testing of Materials

Materials (Basel). 2022 Sep 16;15(18):6443. doi: 10.3390/ma15186443.


Structural materials of the new generation of nuclear reactors, fission as well as fusion, must often cope with high production rates of transmutation helium. Their testing hence requires either a powerful source of fast neutrons or a high-fluence ion-irradiation facility providing sufficient amounts of high-energy helium to investigate its effect on the material. Most ion irradiation studies, however, concentrate on basic effects such as defect evolution or bubble swelling in narrow near-surface regions modified by ion bombardment. Studies on bulk samples with a relatively thick implanted region, which would enable, for instance, micromechanical testing, are underrepresented. This gap might be filled by high-fluence multi-energy ion irradiations modifying several tens of micrometres of the investigated substrate. High-energy ion accelerators providing reasonable currents with energies of tens of MeV are rarely employed in such studies due to their scarcity or considerable beamtime costs. To contribute to this field, this article reports a unique single-beam He implantation experiment aimed at obtaining quasi-uniform displacement damage across >60 μm with the He/dpa ratio roughly one order of magnitude above the typical spallation neutron target irradiation conditions. Some technical aspects of this irradiation experiment, along with recent developments and upgrades at the 6 MV Tandetron accelerator of the Slovak university of technology in Bratislava, are presented.

Keywords: high-energy ion irradiation; nuclear materials; transmutation helium.