Atom probe tomography analysis of nanostructure evolution in Ni-Cr-Mo low alloy steel under neutron irradiation
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Ni-Cr-Mo low alloy steels are being considered as alternative materials to replace the Mn-Mo-Ni low alloy steels used in reactor pressure vessels in nuclear power plants, because of their higher strength and toughness. However, the neutron irradiation occurring during reactor operation causes degradation of Ni-Cr-Mo low alloy steel. In this study, irradiation-induced clusters in a Ni-Cr-Mo model alloy irradiated in the High-flux advanced neutron application reactor (HANARO) research reactor were investigated via Atom probe tomography (APT). The irradiated specimens showed irradiation-induced hardening and embrittlement. The neutron irradiation caused Si clustering, and these spherical clusters were homogeneously distributed within the matrix. Ni was also clustered at the Si clusters. However, the other elements did not clearly exhibit clustering behavior. Si and Ni atoms were also located at the dislocations. To quantify the nano-sized clusters, a method based on the Density-based spatial clustering of applications with noise (DBSCAN) algorithm was implemented. The total number of clusters was calculated to be ~7 × 10-4 n/nm3 and the average cluster radius was less than 2 nm. The APT approach was demonstrated to be well suited for discovering the irradiation defect structures.
KeywordsAtom probe tomography Irradiation defect Neutron irradiation Ni-Cr-Mo low alloy steel
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