Under irradiation, structural materials inside nuclear reactors undergo changes in mechanical properties, which result from the formation of point defect clusters, such as cavities (clusters of vacancies) and interstitial dislocation loops (clusters of self-interstitial atoms). Understanding the formation processes of such clusters is thus of prime importance. Recently, three-dimensional interstitial clusters, known as C15 clusters, have been shown theoretically to be highly stable in iron. In order to detect such clusters experimentally, an idea is to make them grow, as shown for dislocation loops after helium implantation. This approach will be carried out experimentally in various bcc metals in the framework of the ANR project EPigRAPH, in collaboration with Chimie ParisTech, GEMaC and LPS.
In this project, the following modelling tasks will be performed by the postdoc:
- Electronic structure calculations will be done to obtain the energetic properties of point defects and point defect clusters in the bcc metals envisaged in the project.
- These data will then be used to parameterize a kinetic model based on cluster dynamics. This formalism is particularly well adapted to simulate the evolution of point defect clusters over long physical times.