Volume 8, Issue 6 (June 2011)
Detailed Analysis of the Microstructure of the Metal/Oxide Interface Region in Zircaloy-2 after Autoclave Corrosion Testing
Two varieties of Zircaloy-2, with different second phase particle (SPP) size distributions and different corrosion resistance, were oxidized in a steam autoclave. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) of large thin-foil cross-sections of the oxide and the adjacent metal shows an undulating metal/oxide interface in both materials with a periodicity of slightly less than 1 μm and an amplitude of around 100 nm. The SPPs oxidize slower than the surrounding metal, and the absence of volume increase leads to void and crack formation as the SPPs become embedded in the oxide. On SPP oxidation, iron diffuses out of the particles into the surrounding oxide. A sub-oxide with an oxygen content of approximately 50 at. % and a layer thickness of about 200 nm was observed close to the metal/oxide interface. There is a 200 nm oxygen concentration gradient into the metal, from the level close to the sub-oxide of about 30 at. % down to a few atomic percent. All tin in the matrix is incorporated in the sub-oxide, and no segregation to the metal/oxide interface was found.