Materials can play a pivotal role in advancing the state of nuclear energy both domestically and abroad by increasing safety, efficiency, and operational lifetime. Until recently, most advances in materials design for nuclear energy have been incremental – slight changes of composition here or tweaks in microstructure there. This talk will focus on research directions to enable rapid breakthroughs in the development of advanced steels by exploiting innovative approaches to shorten the time associated with characterization and analysis in post irradiation examination efforts. Specifically, recent results on the use of shielded magnetic small angle neutron scattering (SM-SANS) for replacing (or supplementing) APT characterization efforts of nanoscale precipitates in irradiated cladding will be discussed. The presentation will progress towards a discussion regarding a coupled framework for automated dislocation loop detection and analysis based upon on-zone Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy (STEM) dislocation imaging with deep learning-based feature detection and tracking algorithms. Both efforts will be cast towards how the techniques enabled accelerated decision making on alloy concentration selections for FeCrAl alloys in Accident Tolerant Fuel (ATF) nuclear fuel cladding. The presentation will conclude on how these high throughput characterization strategies are being applied for new alloy classes and designs including novel alloy microstructures enabled through additive manufacturing techniques.
About the Speaker:
Dr. Kevin Field is an Associate Professor in the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences at the University of Michigan where his research specializes in alloy development and radiation effects in ferrous and non-ferrous alloys. His active research interests include advanced electron microscopy and scattering-based characterization techniques, additive/advanced manufacturing for nuclear materials, and the application of machine/deep learning techniques for advanced innovation in characterization and development of material systems. Prof. Field moved to the University of Michigan in the Fall of 2019 after six years at Oak Ridge National Laboratory t. Prof. Field has presented and published numerous manuscripts on radiation effects in various material systems relevant for nuclear power generation including irradiated concrete performance, deformation mechanisms in irradiated steels, and radiation tolerance of enhanced accident tolerant fuel forms. Dr. Field received his B.S. (2007) from Michigan Technological University in Materials Science & Engineering and his M.S. (2009) and Ph.D. (2012) from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in Materials Science with a focus on segregation phenomena in ion and neutron irradiated ferrous-based alloys. Dr. Field’s work has been recognized through several avenues including receiving the prestigious Alvin M. Weinberg Fellowship from ORNL in 2013 and being awarded the UT-Battelle Award for Early Career Researcher in Science and Technology in 2018 and Department of Energy Early Career Award in 2020.