Science

New reactor-liner amalgam material offers quality, versatility

A new tungsten-based amalgam created at Los Alamos National Laboratory can withstand uncommon measures of radiation without harm. Essential for extreme irradiation environments, for example, the interiors of magnetic fusion reactors, recently investigated materials have up to this point been hobbled by shortcoming against fracture, however this new amalgam appears to overcome that issue.

“This material showed outstanding radiation resistance when compared to pure nanocrystalline tungsten materials and other conventional alloys,” said Osman El Atwani, the lead author of the paper and the principal investigator of the “Radiation Effects and Plasma Material Interactions in Tungsten Based Materials” project at Los Alamos. “Our investigations of the material mechanical properties under different stress states and response of the material under plasma exposure are ongoing.”

“It seems that we have developed a material with unprecedented radiation resistance,” said principal investigator Enrique Martinez Saez, a co-author of the paper at Los Alamos. “We have never seen before a material that can withstand the level of radiation damage that we have observed for this high-entropy [four or more principal elements] alloy. It seems to retain outstanding mechanical properties after irradiation, as opposed to traditional counterparts, in which the mechanical properties degrade easily under irradiation.”

Arun Devaraj, a materials researcher and project collaborator at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, noted, “Atom probe tomography revealed an interesting atomic level layering of different elements in these alloys, which then changed to nanoclusters when subjected to radiation, helping us to better understand why this unique alloy is highly radiation tolerant.”

The material, made as a thin film, is a quaternary nanocrystalline tungsten-tantalum-vanadium-chromium alloy that has been portrayed under outrageous thermal conditions and after illumination.

“We haven’t yet tested it in high-corrosion environments,” Martinez Saez said, “but I anticipate it should perform well there also. And if it is ductile, as expected, it could also be used as turbine material since it is a refractory, high-melting-point material.”

Portrayed for this present week in a paper in Science Advances, the project was a multi-institutional exertion, including scientists and facilities of Los Alamos National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Warsaw University of Technology, Poland, and the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority.

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