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Investigation of radiation response of new alloys using in-situ ion irradiation


Project Description

The next generation of nuclear reactors (fission/fusion) will require materials able to withstand more extreme environments. The goal of this project is to investigate a new generation of alloys and their response to these conditions. Using a particle accelerator at the unique MIAMI facility, samples will be bombarded with ions whilst being monitored at the nanoscale in an electron microscope. The alloys in this study are known as CSAs (concentrated solid solution alloys) where the alloying elements are close to equiatomic. This project will aim to gain a fundamental understanding of their response and how varying composition/morphology affects these properties.

To meet the stated goal of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050 will require an even greater proportion of our energy needs being met by electricity. Meeting this demand will likely require an increase in nuclear capacity either through next generation fission or fusion. These more efficient reactor designs will require the generation of new materials capable of withstanding greater temperatures and radiation damage levels than those in current operation. One such prospective material is the concentrated solid-solution alloy (CSA), in this type of alloy rather than there being a dominant element with small concentrations of other elements such as in steels, the elements are often in equal atomic concentrations. The variation in atomic size throughout the crystal lattice leads to the reduced mobility of defects, reducing the likelihood of large scale defects forming.

In this project new CSAs (with from 3 to 5 elements) have been designed by collaborators, based around the FeCrMnNiCo system, with in some cases both single- and nano-crystalline versions being produced. Using the MIAMI facility these different CSAs will be subjected to temperatures up to 1200°C and different energetic particle beams such as; helium ions, to simulate the introduction of transmutant products that at sufficient concentrations will lead to the formation of nanometre sized gas bubbles; or a heavy ion such as xenon to induce large numbers of atomic displacements. These experiments are able to reach the expected lifetime damage of these materials in hours. The data from these irradiations will be fed back to be incorporated into the design of future CSAs.

The successful candidate will be trained to be an independent user of the various equipment within the MIAMI facility (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIAMI_Facilities). Becoming proficient in the use of transmission electron microscopes and ion accelerators, as well as associated support equipment. Along with these practical skills a strong background in materials, radiation damage theory, and experimental data analysis will be developed. There will also be opportunities to collaborate with other researchers both within the Huddersfield group and externally, on related projects to broaden the candidates experience. Funds are also available for travel to national and international conferences/workshops to present work and meet other researchers from around the world.

Prospective candidates are welcome to visit to see the facilities and meet the team including current PhD students, for any inquiries please e-mail:

Funding Notes

Candidates should have a Bachelor’s degree (or above) in physics, chemistry, materials science or similar discipline.
Ideally (but not necessary) the candidate will be familiar with some of the following:
• Electron microscopy (TEM in particular)
• Radiation damage in solids
• Metallurgy

This PhD position is EPSRC funded and is only available to UK permanent residents. Stipend of £15,245 per annum incrementing each year.

Funds are also available for travel to national and international conferences/workshops to present work and meet other researchers from around the world.

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