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Materials Science at Oregon State University

Investigating radiation effects on FeCrAl alloy microstructures

Date: Thursday, Oct 25th
Presenter: Prof. Sam Briggs, OSU Nuclear Science and Engineering


FeCrAl-based alloys are currently being investigated as an alternate material for light water reactor (LWR) fuel claddings due to their exceptional high-temperature corrosion resistance when compared to Zr-based alloys, which are known to exacerbate loss-of-coolant accident scenarios. Radiation tolerance becomes an important consideration when designing such an alloy, as similar high-Cr ferritic alloys are known to be susceptible to radiation-induced hardening and embrittlement due primarily to the formation of alpha prime phase precipitates. The work presented will discuss recent findings regarding FeCrAl alloy microstructural evolution in neutron radiation environments and will emphasize the benefits of using complementary microscopy techniques to fully characterize material response. The formation of dislocation loops, accelerated precipitation of the Cr-rich alpha prime phase, and the stability of reactive nanoparticles in oxide dispersion-strengthened FeCrAl variants are all probed using several transmission electron microscopy (TEM)-based techniques, in addition to atom probe tomography (APT) and small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) techniques. The impact of these findings on FeCrAl alloy design decisions for accident-tolerant fuel cladding applications will be discussed.

Dr. Samuel Briggs is an Assistant Professor in the School of Nuclear Science and Engineering at Oregon State University. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Nuclear Engineering from Oregon State University, and a Master’s and Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering and Engineering Physics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) under Dr. Todd Allen and Dr. Kumar Sridharan. His research interests focus on enabling next-generation nuclear reactor technologies through materials design and development. His primary expertise is in microstructural characterization and microscopy of radiation damage in materials, with an emphasis on studying damage structures and precipitation in metals using transmission electron microscopy (TEM), APT, and diffraction-based techniques. Previously, he worked as postdoctoral researcher under Dr. Khalid Hattar in the Ion Beam Laboratory (IBL) at Sandia National Laboratories where he studies radiation damage and materials transformations in-situ using the In-situ Ion Irradiation TEM (I3TEM) facility.