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Hardening and Microstructure of Model Reactor Pressure Vessel Steel Alloys Using Proton Irradiation

  • Q. Yu (a1), G. S. Was (a1), L. M. Wang (a1), R. Odette (a2) and D. E. Alexander (a3)...

Abstract

As part of a broad effort to understand the mechanisms of irradiation embrittlement in reactor pressure vessels steels, irradiation hardening and microstructural evolution in simple model Fe-0.9Cu-1.0Mn, Fe-0.9Cu and Fe alloys irradiated with 3.2 MeV protons at 300°C are compared to the corresponding changes in hardening produced by neutron irradiation over a similar dose range of 0.0004 to 0.015 dpa. In the case of the proton irradiated samples, Vickers hardness was measured at a 25 g load and the microstructures were characterized using small angle x-ray scattering (SAXS). In spite of the much higher dpa rate for protons (3 × 10−7 dpa/s compared to neutron rates of about 10−9 to 10−10 dpa/s) as well as very different primary recoil spectra, the observed hardening-dose response is very similar in both cases. The large increase in hardness in the alloys with 0.9% copper, and the SAXS data are consistent with precipitation of coherent copper-rich features accelerated by irradiation enhanced diffusion, as well as a much smaller contribution presumably from defect clusters that do not require the presence of copper.

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