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Understanding of the Chemical Effects on Oxidation Behaviour of Accident Tolerant Materials for Plasma Facing Component (PFC)

Department of Materials

, Prof G Burke Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Conditions inside fusion reactors are exceptionally hostile, involving both high temperatures and severe levels of neutron irradiation. Tungsten (W) is the main candidate material for the armour of the plasma facing component (PFC) in the Tokamak-type fusion reactor. Apart from the intrinsic brittleness of W that limits the operational window of the Tokamak-type fusion reactor, another problem of using W for the PFC armour is the formation of radioactive and highly volatile Tungsten Trioxide or Tungstic anhydride (WO3) at the surface of the PFC armour and their potential release under accidental conditions, such as loss of coolant or loss of vacuum accidents. Previous studies had demonstrated that the oxidation of W can be suppressed in ternary systems. For example, W-Cr-Ti and W-Cr-Y, have demonstrated the slowest oxidation rate and the formation of a self-passivating oxide layer at the surface of the W-alloys. However, the role of Cr, Ti and Y mechanism behind the suppression of the oxidation process is not yet understood and therefore needs to be studied.

In this project, the PhD student will study the Cr, Ti and Y effects on the microstructure evolution of the binary and ternary W-alloys under (1) irradiation condition, (2) oxidising condition and (3) irradiation and oxidising condition. Both as-received and irradiated W-alloys will be characterised using state of the art aberration corrected Scanning/Transmission Electron Microscope (S/TEM) at the University of Manchester or the national facility for aberration corrected STEM SuperSTEM. The ultimate goal of this research is to design new materials suitable as PFC by understanding the mechanism that governing oxide(s) growth under an oxidising condition up to a temperature of 1300 degree Celsius.

This project is part of ongoing research on oxidation of W-alloys under the EUROfusion WPMAT on developing of SMART materials and the EUROfusion Enabling Research Project - ATOMCRAD. The MPC has pioneered the development of in situ analytical TEM for the study of materials used in nuclear power plant and this project will benefit from these recent advancements and strengthen this research programme.

The student will have the opportunity to develop transferable skills ranging from modelling and programming to data mining using open source python tools, the analysis of complex S/TEM data and effective communication skills.

At the University of Manchester, we pride ourselves on our commitment to fairness, inclusion and respect in everything we do. We welcome applications from people of all backgrounds and identities, and encourage you to bring your whole self to work and study. We will ensure that your application is given full consideration without regard to your race, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, nationality, disability, age, marital or pregnancy status, or socioeconomic background. All PhD places will be awarded on the basis of merit.

Funding Notes

This project may be considered for DTP funding later in the year.

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