Nuclear Materials and Chemistry
Our team carries out cutting-edge material science and Chemistry in order to develop fundamental understanding of materials in the nuclear environment. The main focus of our research group is on materials in extreme environments, especially nuclear. Therefore, understanding radiation damage and the associated effects on materials is an essential aspect of our work. In addition, the impact of low and high temperature, high mechanical stress, high temperature water, and liquid-metal and liquid salt environments receive significant attention. Through understanding the underlying principles of these materials, as well as developing new methods to investigate them, we are able to make progress on material development and predictability, leading to dramatic improvements in a variety of engineering applications. A unique specific focus is on small scale mechanical testing of materials in order to obtain materials properties on a local scale and develop materials biopsy methods to ensure safe and reliable system operation.
Equipment and infrastructure:
The nuclear materials laboratory utilizes three main areas. Etcheverry 1107 houses sample preparation and materials synthesis with state of the art metallography tools and a high energy ZOZ atrittor mill for powder processing. Etchevery 1140 houses both materials preparation and characterization. It has a newly remodeled area for radioactive sample preparation (metallography, polishing, cutting) for samples up to 3R/h on contact and a storage unit for more than 300 active samples. Further it houses an environmental scanning electron microscope, a high temperature nanoindenter, two atomic force microscopes and a radioactive sample tensile test unit to obtain mechanical properties from reactor retrieved specimens. In addition several liquid metal and liquid salt autoclaves are setup next to a high temperature liquid metal loop and water corrosion systems to address the environmental nuclear materials needs. Stanley Hall’s BNC is a partner facility which houses an focused ion beam instruments for radioactive samples equipped with EBSD, EDS, STEM and nanoindentation, the triple ion beam microscope (He, Ne, Ga) ORION Nanofab, and an XPS unit. Due to the intense costs of nuclear materials research we partner with material Science Departments and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s resources to expand the experimental capabilities.