Diffusion of small anti-Schottky clusters in UO2

A Garmon and XY Liu and D Andersson and D Perez, JOURNAL OF NUCLEAR MATERIALS, 585, 154630 (2023).

DOI: 10.1016/j.jnucmat.2023.154630

The aggregation of irradiation-induced defect clusters in UO2 leads to the formation of dislocation loops and cavities which contribute swelling and ultimately produce deleterious effects on the fuel. Despite their fundamental role in fuel evolution, the kinetics of these defect clusters are not currently well understood. In this work, we investigate the diffusive behavior of interstitial clusters via Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations. Our investigation considers a range of defect cluster sizes, each composed of ������ UO2 units or anti-Schottky defects. We report a complex cluster size -mobility relation; increasing cluster size corresponds to an increase in mobility up until a critical size (������ = 4) where diffusivity reaches a maximum, after which the trend reverts and further increasing size corresponds to a decrease in mobility. The rapid migration observed correlates well with the very low barriers reported in a few historic experimental studies. Further analysis of the cluster shape and orientation reveals a strong structural preference for near-planar configurations oriented normal to the (100) direction. Rotational energy barriers are found to be similar in both magnitude and trend to the observed diffusion barriers. Lastly, connections are drawn to the behavior of large defect clusters including the formation of (1/3)(111) Frank dislocation loops.

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