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Helium, produced by transmutations or injected, causes bubble formation in solids at elevated temperatures. For small bubbles, the gas pressure required to balance the surface tension reaches values which far exceed those obtainable in experiments to measure the equation of state for helium gas. Therefore, empirical gas laws cannot be considered applicable to the fluid-like densities existing in small bubbles. In order to remedy this situation, an equation of state for helium was developed from the theory of the liquid state. At very low densities, this theoretically derived equation of state agrees with experimental results. For high densities, however, gas pressures are predicted which are significantly higher than those derived from the ideal gas law, but also significantly lower than pressures obtained with the van der Waals law. When applied to equilibrium bubbles in solids, it is found that the high-density equation of state leads to less bubble swelling than the van der Waals law, but more than the ideal gas law. Furthermore, the number of helium atoms in equilibrium bubbles is nearly independent of temperature.
gases in metals, helium in metals, gas law, bubbles, bubble swelling
Professor, Fusion Engineering Program, Nuclear Engineering Department, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis.