Thermal expansion of plasma-exposed tungsten

A Weerasinghe and BD Wirth and D Maroudas, JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSICS, 132, 185102 (2022).

DOI: 10.1063/5.0123280

We report results from a systematic analysis of thermal expansion of plasma-exposed tungsten based on molecular-dynamics simulations using models of tungsten with distributions of helium (He) bubbles in the tungsten matrix. We distinguish between two approaches of filling the bubbles with He, where the amount of He in the bubble can or cannot vary with temperature. In the former case, the thermal expansion coefficient decreases monotonically with the porosity and He content of the tungsten matrix, while in the latter case, the thermal expansivity increases monotonically with increasing porosity and He content. The latter condition, where the He content in the bubble is determined at the implantation temperature and remains constant with varying temperature in the tungsten matrix, is consistent with He species transport in tungsten used as a plasma-facing component (PFC) in nuclear fusion reactors and implies the development of biaxial compressive thermal strains in the PFC material that contribute to accelerating the growth of a nanostructure on PFC tungsten surfaces. Our analysis advances the fundamental understanding of thermal expansion in PFC tungsten and contributes to the development of a thermophysical property database for properly incorporating effects of realistic heat loads into modeling the dynamical response of PFC tungsten under fusion reactor operating conditions. Published under an exclusive license by AIP Publishing.

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