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Radiation Response of Nanostructured Cu

posted on 02.08.2019 by Cuncai Fan
Irradiation of metals with energetic particles causes heavy damage effects in microstructure and mechanical properties, which is closely associated with irradiation conditions, presence of impurities, and microstructural features. It has been proposed that the radiation tolerance of a certain material can be enhanced by introducing a high density of interfaces, acting as ‘sinks’ that can frequently involve in attracting, absorbing and annihilating defects. Nanostructured materials with large volume fraction of interfaces, therefore, are assumed to be more radiation tolerant than conventional materials. This thesis focuses on the radiation damage effects in nanostructured Cu via the methods of in-situ TEM (transmission electron microscope) radiation experiments, postirradiation TEM analyses, small-mechanical tests (nanoindentation and micro-pillar compression), and computer simulations (molecular dynamics and phase-field modeling). We design and fabricate nanostructured Cu using direct current (DC) magnetron sputtering deposition technique, a typica physical vapor deposition (PVD) method and a bottom-up way to construct various nanostructured metals. High-density twin boundaries (TBs) and nanovoids (NVs) are introduced into two distinct nanostructured Cu films, including nanovoid-nanotwinned (NVNT) Cu (111) and nanovoid (NV) Cu (110). The in-situ high-energy Kr++ (1 MeV) and ex-situ low energy He+ (< 200 keV) irradiations are subsequently preformed on the as-deposited Cu samples. On the one hand, the in-situ TEM observations suggest that TBs and NVs can influence the formation, distribution and stability of radiation-induced defects. Meanwhile, the preexisting microstructures also undergo structural change through void shrinkage and twin boundary migration. On the other hand, the ex-situ micro-pillar compression tests reveal that the Heirradiated NV-NT Cu contains less defect clusters but experiences more radiation-induced hardening. The underlying mechanisms of void shrinkage, twin boundary migration, and radiationinduced hardening are fully discussed based on post-irradiation analyses and computer simulations.


National Science Foundation’s Division of Materials Research (NSF-DMR)

Bilsland Dissertation Fellowship, Graduate School, Purdue University


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy


Materials Engineering

Campus location

West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Xinghang Zhang

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. Haiyan Wang

Additional Committee Member 3

Dr. Anter El-Azab

Additional Committee Member 4

Dr. David Johnson