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Radiation Effects in Zircon, Hafnon, and Thorite: Implications for Pu Disposal

  • A. Meldrum (a1), S.J. Zinkle (a1), L.A. Boatner (a1), M. Wu (a2), R. Mu (a2), A. Ueda (a2), D.O. Henderson (a2) and R.C. Ewing (a3)...


Synthetic ZrSiO4, HfSiO4, and ThSiO4 single-crystal specimens were irradiated by 800 keV Kr+ ions, and the microstructural evolution was observed in-situ in a transmission electron microscope. All three compounds were found to become amorphous up to temperatures in excess of 600°C. Using a new model, the activation energies for annealing were found to be in the range of 3.1 to 3.6 eV for these compounds. At temperatures above 600°C, the orthosilicates were observed to decompose into the component oxides (e.g., tetragonal ZrO2 + amorphous SiO2 in the case of zircon). A single-crystal zircon specimen was also irradiated with a pulsed picosecond Nd:YAG laser operated at 355 nm, and the resulting microstructure was investigated by optical absorption, SEM, AFM, and TEM techniques.



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