The thermal conductivity of defected copper at finite temperatures


Copper-based materials have been selected as heat-sink materials in some nuclear fusion reactors, where a great number of structural defects will be created due to the irradiation of energetic particles. In the practice of fusion reactors, an important issue is how the defects in copper heat-sink material affect its thermal transport property. However, there is no systematic study on the relation between thermal conductivity and the concentrations of various point defects in copper up to now. Our theoretical calculations show that the thermal conductivity (\( \kappa \)) of Cu is significantly reduced by the presence of vacancies, self-interstitial atoms, SIA–vacancy pairs and the doped impurity tungsten (W) at finite temperatures. Among these concerned point defects, the doped impurity W plays the strongest role in impeding the thermal transport of conduction electrons, and the presence of 4% W impurity in Cu leads to about 80% reduction in \( \kappa \) as compared to that of the defect-free Cu system (\( \kappa_{0} \)). Furthermore, it is revealed that during the cascade, the thermal transport property of Cu changes as the structural defects evolve, and the thermal transport of electrons is impeded significantly in the initial stages of cascade. In addition, our calculations show that the Wiedemann–Franz law is still valid in defected copper systems.

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This work is financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 11275191 and 11875247), and the National Magnetic Confinement Fusion Programs (Grant Nos. 2013GB107004 and 2018YFE0308102). The computational center of USTC is acknowledged for computational support.

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Ye, X.B., He, Z.H. & Pan, B.C. The thermal conductivity of defected copper at finite temperatures. J Mater Sci 55, 4453–4463 (2020).

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