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The results of recent molecular dynamics simulations of displacement cascades in iron indicate that small interstitial clusters may have a very low activation energy for migration, and that their migration is 1-dimensional, rather than 3-dimensional. The mobility of these clusters can have a significant impact on the predictions of radiation damage models, particularly at the relatively low temperatures typical of commercial, light water reactor pressure vessels (RPV) and other out-of-core components. A previously-developed kinetic model used to investigate RPV embrittlement has been modified to permit an evaluation of the mobile interstitial clusters. Sink strengths appropriate to both 1- and 3-dimensional motion of the clusters were evaluated. High cluster mobility leads to a reduction in the amount of predicted embrittlement due to interstitial clusters since they are lost to sinks rather than building up in the microstructure. The sensitivity of the predictions to displacement rate also increases. The magnitude of this effect is somewhat reduced if the migration is 1-dimensional since the corresponding sink strengths are lower than those for 3-dimensional diffusion. The cluster mobility can also affect the evolution of copper-rich precipitates in the model since the radiation enhanced diffusion coefficient increases due to the lower interstitial cluster sink strength. The overall impact of the modifications to the model is discussed in terms of the major irradiation variables and material parameter uncertainties.
embrittlement, ferritic steels, hardening, modeling, molecular dynamics, point defects, pressure vessels, radiation damage, rate theory
Senior Research Staff Member, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN