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Grain Boundaries in Uranium Dioxide: Scanning Electron Microscopy Experiments and Atomistic Simulations

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The distribution and atomic structure of grain boundaries has been investigated in UO2. Our scanning electron microscopic/electron backscatter diffraction experiments on a depleted UO2 sample showed real nuclear fuels contain a combination of special coincident site lattice (CSL) and general boundaries. The experimental data indicated that ∼16% of the boundaries were CSL boundaries and the CSL distribution was dominated by low Σ boundaries; namely Σ9, Σ3, and Σ5 Based on our experimental observations, the structures of select low Σ (Σ5 tilt, Σ5 twist, Σ3 tilt) and a random boundary were analyzed in greater detail using empirical potential atomic-scale calculations. Our calculations indicate that the boundaries have very different structures and each CSL boundary had multiple minima on the γ-surface. The presence of a significant fraction of CSL boundaries and the differences in their structures are expected to have important consequences on fuel properties.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico 87545 2: School of Mechanical, Aerospace, Chemical and Materials Engineering, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona 85287 3: Advanced Cooling Technologies Inc., Lancaster, Pennsylvania 17601 4: Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611

Publication date: 2011-06-01

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