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Gd2TixZr2−xO7 (x = 0 to 2) pyrochlore was irradiated by 30 MeV C60 clusters, which provide an extremely high ionizing energy density. High-resolution transmission electron microscopy revealed a complex ion-track structure in Gd2Ti2O7 and Gd2TiZrO7, consisting of an amorphous core and a shell of a disordered, defect-fluorite structure. As compared with the irradiation by 1.5 GeV U ions with the highest energy loss, the track structure is consistent with tracks created by monoatomic swift heavy ions, but the diameters (with the entire diameter of 17 nm for Gd2Ti2O7 and 15 nm for Gd2TiZrO7) are significantly larger due to the much smaller velocity and higher energy density of the C60 ions. Ion tracks created by monoatomic ions are challenging to describe by HRTEM, as the boundary between disordered fluorite and pyrochlore matrix is less distinct. However, the C60 irradiation shows a clearly resolved ion track with completely crystalline, disordered, defect-fluorite structure around an amorphous core. Based on the distinct boundaries of the track morphology, inelastic thermal-spike calculations were used to describe the track size and extract critical energy densities for the interpretation of the complex core–shell morphologies for the different pyrochlore compositions.
This work is an overview of the physical approaches required for characterizing and understanding the long-term evolution of ceramics under irradiation. Because this subject is complex and has many ramifications, we have chosen to address the problem by looking at the behavior of a number of key ceramics. In the first part of this work, we present the physical mechanisms responsible for the production of primary defects, pointing out the main differences between metals, semiconductors, and insulators. In part two, we attempt to show how devoted experimental techniques can combine with transmission electron microscopy and x-ray techniques to provide a clearer picture of the long-term evolution of the microstructure of ceramics under irradiation. The last part of this work is devoted to discussing different approaches to explain and describe the long-term behavior of irradiated ceramics.
Subcritical crack growth in SiC based composites is controlled by fiber creep processes. This lifetime limiting mechanism is of special concern under irradiation as it can enhance creep related mechanisms. To evaluate the impact of irradiation on the mechanical behavior of Tyranno SA3 fibers, in situ tensile tests were conducted on single fibers. These tests were conducted under irradiation with 92 MeV Xe23+ ions at 1000 °C for different ion fluxes and stress loads using a dedicated experimental facility. It has been found that irradiation induces time-dependent deformation of the fibers under conditions where thermal creep is negligible, i.e., 300 MPa and 1000 °C. Irradiation strain rate shows linear dependence with the ion beam flux and square root dependence with the applied stress. Finally, the irradiation creep compliance is estimated to be 1.01 × 10−5 MPa−1 dpa−1.
We present a study of point-defect creation in yttria-stabilized zirconia (ZrO2: Y) or YSZ exposed to various heavy ions (from C to U) covering an energy range from 100 MeV to several GeVs. It is concluded that F+-type centers (involving singly-ionized oxygen vacancies) are produced by elastic-collision processes. The ion-induced out-of-plane expansion is found to be small (< 0.2%) and to increase linearly as a function of the average F+-type center concentration with a large slope compatible with small oxygen vacancy clusters. The large defect volume and <100> axial symmetry of the F+-type centers hint that these color centers might actually be divacancies (i.e. F2+ centers).
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