This project will primarily be based at The University of Sheffield.
Commercial fusion devices will use radioactive tritium as a fuel source. Due to its scarcity in nature, tritium must be artificially produced and, owing to its radiotoxicity and deleterious effects on the properties of candidate fusion materials, appropriate tritium management is critical in order to deliver commercial fusion power. For example, tritium permeation into materials will not only reduce the amount of tritium available for fusion but will also impact the maintenance and disposal routes of these tritiated components.
The UK government, via the UK Atomic Energy Authority, has committed to delivering a prototype magnetic fusion power station by 2040. Therefore, to meet this deadline, there is an urgent need to understand tritium permeation into materials facing the tritium interface, such as plasma facing materials. Coating existing tritium facing materials such as tungsten (W) with anti-permeation materials has been proposed as a faster alternative to the development and qualification of novel bulk anti-permeation materials, and is a key area of interest for the industrial sponsors of this project, Atkins.
In this project the student, using experimental methods, will first determine hydrogen and / or tritium permeation rates in known and novel anti-permeation materials, to determine which materials provide the most effective barrier. Next, the student will produce via sputtering the most promising materials as coatings, followed by characterisation of these coatings using X-ray and electron microscopy techniques. Finally, energetic ion implantation at high temperatures will be used to determine the coatings response to fusion relevant environments. During the project, the student will be able to gain industrial experience on live projects at Atkins.
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