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A review of temperature-irradiation effects on metals must consider two temperature regimes. One of these is the elevated temperature regime where irradiation-induced defects exhibit mobility, and the second is the low temperature regime where these same defects are frozen in place. More data are available for high-temperature irradiation effects, but this case is somewhat more complex than the low-temperature irradiation regime, because at higher temperatures competing reactions such as precipitation, order-disorder, and others are acting simultaneously with irradiation-induced hardening. Since competing mechanisms are working simultaneously, the final result of high-temperature irradiation depends on such factors as temperature, flux, dose, and prior condition of the alloy. The effect of low-temperature irradiation on metals and alloys is less clearly understood, because fewer experiments have been performed. A few experiments on high-purity alloys have attempted to correlate mechanical and physical properties with defect structure, while limited tests of complex high-strength alloys have disclosed that these alloys retain adequate strength, toughness, and ductility after cryogenic irradiation to be useful in airborne structures. The present state of the art in this field is to attempt a basic understanding of the action of irradiation-induced defects in simple crystals and, at the same time, to measure effects of irradiation on complex high-strength alloys in an attempt to make empirical correlations with temperature, flux, etc., from which it may eventually be possible to synthesize an underlying theory of irradiation effects.
Watson, J. F.
General Atomic, General Dynamics Corp., San Diego, Calif.