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Deformation Mechanisms in Unirradiated and Irradiated Iron Chromium Aluminum Identified by TEM in situ Tensile Testing
thesisposted on 20.07.2021, 17:49 by George A Warren
FeCrAl alloys are being investigated as candidate materials for replacing zirconium based alloys as nuclear reactor fuel cladding because of their superior high temperature oxidation resistance in steam environments. Unirradiated FeCrAl as well as Fe2+ ion irradiated FeCrAl to a peak dose of 20DPA were mechanically tested and compared against each other. Nanohardness tests were performed on both the unirradiated and irradiated conditions and it was found that the irradiated alloy was about 1GPa harder than its unirradiated counterpart. TEM in situ tensile tests were performed using the Bruker push to pull device alongside a PI95 Picoindenter on single crystals with grain orientations 001, 011 and 111. The unirradiated 001 grains tended to fail without yielding in a brittle manner while the irradiated 001 grain yielded and reached an ultimate tensile strength before failure. The unirradiated 011 grains behaved in a mixed manner, where one failed without yielding and one slipped many times before failing. The irradiated 011 grain yielded and failed quickly thereafter. The unirradiated 111 grain yielded, slipped and twinned before failing and both irradiated 111 grains slipped. Two general trends were observed. One, each unirradiated single grain was stronger than its irradiated counterpart. This trend is indicative of the ion irradiated microstructure facilitating bulklike mechanical behavior in the irradiated samples whereas the unirradiated samples exhibited mechanical size effects due to either the total lack of preexisting defects or the ability for existing defects to escape easily to the surface of the sample resulting in a pristine, defect free sample. Two, regardless of irradiation condition, the 001 grain orientation was brittle, the 011 grain orientation deformed in a mixed brittle/ductile manner and the 111 grain orientation was ductile through all tests. These results are indicative of the geometry of the BCC crystal structure and the slip system involving these orientations.