Transition in helium bubble strengthening of copper from quasi-static to dynamic deformation

CR Lear and MR Chancey and R Flanagan and JG Gigax and MT Hoang and DR Jones and H Kim and DT Martinez and BM Morrow and N Mathew and Y Wang and N Li and JR Payton and MB Prime and SJ Fensin, ACTA MATERIALIA, 254, 118987 (2023).

DOI: 10.1016/j.actamat.2023.118987

Damage from low-temperature irradiation and the subsequent degradation of materials performance pose sig-nificant challenges for the storage of radioactive materials and for peripheral components in some nuclear reactor designs. Fully understanding the mechanical behavior of such materials requires test data for strain rates in both the quasi-static (< 10/s) and dynamic (>> 10/s) regimes. While dynamic testing has generally been avoided in the past for neutron irradiated (contamination concerns) and ion irradiated (insufficient volume) materials, surface- sensitive Richtmyer-Meshkov instability (RMI) tests were used in the present work to overcome these limitations. Here, nanopillar compression, nanoindentation, and RMI testing data from a helium implanted surface layer (similar to 10 mu m thick) were compiled to explore the effects of helium bubbles on the materials strength of high- purity copper at strain rates of 0.001/s - 10(8)/s. While nano- mechanical testing revealed increases in yield strength and hardness with increasing helium dose from 1000 to 4000 appm He, RMI indicated no significant changes in strength as compared to unimplanted copper. This discrepancy in behavior was rationalized through a combination of recent literature and follow-on molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, leading to the conclusion that the nanoscale helium bubbles acting as dispersed barriers to dislocation motion at quasi-static strain rates collapse under shock loading and cease to be effective barriers at high strain rates.

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