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Maximizing radiation attenuation in compact fusion reactors using cWC-RSB candidate materials

   Department of Physics

  Dr Jessica Marshall  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Reactive Sintered Borides (RSBs) are new tungsten iron boride based materials that are part of a larger project to develop radiation dense materials that are suitable for use in fusion reactors, specifically compact spherical tokamaks (cSTs) where the constraints of geometry around the central column makes for extreme conditions in terms of heat loading, radiation and the need to protect the superconducting magnets.

RSBs are novel materials formed by reacting boron, carbon, iron-chrome alloy and tungsten metal These are highly heterogeneous but have already attracted interest as radiation dense materials, particularly with respect to slow neutrons. Recent work has investigated the composition of RSBs which has given some insight into how structure affects the properties of such materials and potential avenues for optimization.

This PhD project will combine experimental work with simulations which will investigate aspects such as material aging in the context of a fusion reactor and radiation damage in realistic scenarios. Strong interaction is anticipated with the multidisciplinary HetSyS theory group which has a considerable track record in investigating problems specific to nuclear materials. There will be opportunities to use software packages such as ThermoCalc and SRIM to predict and guide practical work. Knowledge of Python is desirable but not essential. The PhD is funded for 3.5 years with a start date for Q4 2022/Q1 2023.

Developing radiation dense materials requires a multi-disciplinary approach in terms of experimental work and characterization techniques. This will include other groups at Warwick such as the Ultrasound Group in Physics and the Ceramics group in the Warwick Manufacturing Group. External collaborators include Imperial College and the University of Oxford. The PhD student will also be able to participate in research at central facilities such as the Dalton Ion Beam Centre and the Materials Research Facility at Culham.

Key objectives for this PhD:

· Determination of different RSB candidate materials with respect to their potential applications

· Investigation of material-radiation interactions in the context of a fusion reactor

· Evaluation of shielding solutions in terms of maximising radiation attenuation in confined spaces.

It is anticipated that successful candidates will have the potential to be early leaders in the field of material science in power-generating fusion reactors. For informal enquiries please contact or visit the group page at


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