SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1970

Metallography of Radioactive Materials at Oak Ridge National Laboratory


The preparation and examination of radioactive and toxic materials has required metallographers to discard the close “touch” which at one time was considered so important. Basically, the same preparation and examination steps are carried out with the specimen, but when working with radioactive and toxic materials the simplest operation may be highly involved and require the metallographer to use sensitive manipulators and remotely operated equipment while he is protected by biological shielding. Shielding demands are determined by the materials under study and can vary from a cell with 3-ft-thick, high-density concrete to ¼-in.-thick glass. Metallographs, microhardness testers, X-ray diffraction equipment, and microprobe analyzers have been fabricated with biological shielding as an integral part of the instruments. The in-cell equipment, in particular, may have to approach a “Rube Goldberg” design to be operable, repairable, or replaceable, all by remote methods, and still not downgrade its function by these basic requirements. An important variable—radiation—must be considered along with mechanical and physical effects in the interpretation of the often complex microstructures of metals, alloys, cermets, and ceramics. Some of the materials, as well as information concerning them, are extremely rare and some elements are a product of the nuclear reactor. Examples of equipment requirements and the microstructures of some nuclear fuels and structural materials after exposure in a nuclear reactor are presented.

Author Information

Gray, RJ
Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Long, EL
Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Richt, AE
Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tenn.
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Developed by Committee: E04
Pages: 67–96
DOI: 10.1520/STP32074S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-4591-7
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-0747-2