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Understanding tritium behaviour in plasma facing materials for nuclear fusion applications


   Department of Materials

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

About the Project

Nuclear fusion offers the potential for low carbon, sustained electricity generation. This is predicated on the production and availability of fuel within the reactor. In the case of optimal energy production in fusion, the fuel is in the form of two of the isotopes of hydrogen – deuterium and tritium. However, retention of hydrogen isotopes within the materials of the reactor can be detrimental to its operation in terms of both materials’ degradation and increased tritium inventory that is unusable as a fuel. The aim of the project is to study, evaluate, and understand deuterium and tritium trapping within a range of metallic matrix materials that are pertinent to fusion applications, e.g. nanostructured ferritic alloys, reduced activation ferritic martensitic steels, etc.

 In this project, advanced microstructural characterisation will be conducted on the materials of interest using a suite of techniques including transmission electron microscopy and thermal desorption spectroscopy and gas permeation experiments, on a range of materials that have been exposed to ion irradiation using self-ions and proton/deuterium. Deducing the atomic structures that sequester hydrogen isotopes, and identifying differences between the isotopes will be central to this novel research and will guide the formation of predictive models for the lifetime of critical reactor components, and/or the design of novel materials with improved properties.

 A portion of this work is expected to be conducted in collaboration with scientists at key facilities at the UKAEA at Culham, namely the Hydrogen-3 Advanced Technology (H3AT), Device for Exposure to Low-energy Plasma of Hydrogen Isotopes (DELPHI) facilities, and the Materials Research Facility (MRF).

Applicants should have or expect to achieve at least a 2.1 honours degree in Materials science, physics, engineering, or related discipline.

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. We know that diversity strengthens our research community, leading to enhanced research creativity, productivity and quality, and societal and economic impact. We actively encourage applicants from diverse career paths and backgrounds and from all sections of the community, regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation and transgender status.

 We also support applications from those returning from a career break or other roles. We consider offering flexible study arrangements (including part-time: 50%, 60% or 80%, depending on the project/funder). 


Funding Notes

Funding is for UK students only; funded by the University of Manchester in collaboration with UKAEA. Duration of programme 3.5 years

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