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Author ORCID ID is 0000000158631372
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  1. We report that radiation resistant materials are needed for a large number of applications. One route to enhancing radiation resistance is to introduce a high density of defect sinks such as grain boundaries. However, there are still important questions regarding the role of grain boundaries in enhancing radiation tolerance, particularly in ionic materials. Experiments have found large improvements in the amorphization resistance of oxides at temperatures where defect mobilities are too low to easily reach the boundaries. Standard reaction-diffusion models are inadequate in explaining this behavior. Here, we examine the role of electro-migration in the overall transport of irradiation-induced defectsmore » in ionic systems. We find that electro-migration can have a large impact on the steady state point defect concentrations as compared to models that do not include the effect of electro-migration. In particular, defect concentrations can change by nearly seven orders of magnitude for certain conditions. Finally, we conclude that radiation tolerance in nanocrystalline ionic ceramics will be driven both by enhanced sink density via small grain sizes and, critically, the effects of electro-migration induced by charge segregation to grain boundaries.« less
  2. The understanding of migration properties of helium atoms after their generation through α-decay of actinides in spent nuclear fuels is important for the safety of nuclear fuel storage and disposal. The diffusion of helium in UO 2 is revisited by using the DFT+U simulation methodology employing the “U-ramping” method to address the issue of metastable energy states. A novel diffusion mechanism by helium interstitials, the “asymmetric hop” mechanism, is reported and compared to other diffusion mechanisms including an oxygen vacancy mediated mechanism and available experimental diffusion data. We show that the new mechanism is the dominant one over a widemore » temperature range.« less
  3. We present a study of the diffusion of krypton in UO 2 using atomic scale calculations combined with diffusion models adapted to the system studied. The migration barriers of the elementary mechanisms for interstitial or vacancy assisted migration are calculated in the DFT + U framework using the nudged elastic band method. The attempt frequencies are obtained from the phonon modes of the defect at the initial and saddle points using empirical potential methods. The diffusion coefficients of Kr in UO 2 are then calculated by combining this data with diffusion models accounting for the concentration of vacancies and themore » interaction of vacancies with Kr atoms. We determined the preferred mechanism for Kr migration and the corresponding diffusion coefficient as a function of the oxygen chemical potential μ O or nonstoichiometry. For very hypostoichiometric (or U-rich) conditions, the most favorable mechanism is interstitial migration. For hypostoichiometric UO 2, migration is assisted by the bound Schottky defect and the charged uranium vacancy, V U 4–. Around stoichiometry, migration assisted by the charged uranium–oxygen divacancy (V UO 2–) and V U 4– is the favored mechanism. Finally, for hyperstoichiometric or O-rich conditions, the migration assisted by two V U 4– dominates. Kr migration is enhanced at higher μ O, and in this regime, the activation energy will be between 4.09 and 0.73 eV depending on nonstoichiometry. The experimental values available are in the latter interval. Since it is very probable that these values were obtained for at least slightly hyperstoichiometric samples, our activation energies are consistent with the experimental data, even if further experiments with precisely controlled stoichiometry are needed to confirm these results. Finally, the mechanisms and trends with nonstoichiometry established for Kr are similar to those found in previous studies of Xe.« less
  4. Uranium silicides, in particular U 3Si 2, are being explored as an advanced nuclear fuel with increased accident tolerance as well as competitive economics compared to the baseline UO 2 fuel. Here we use density functional theory calculations and thermochemical analysis to assess the stability of U 3Si 2 with respect to non-stoichiometry reactions in both the hypo- and hyper-stoichiometric regimes. We find that the degree of non-stoichiometry in U 3Si 2 is much smaller than in UO 2 and at most reaches a few percent at high temperature. Non-stoichiometry impacts fuel performance by determining whether the loss of uraniummore » due to fission leads to a non-stoichiometric U 3Si 2±x phase or precipitation of a second U-Si phase. Lastly, we also investigate the U 5Si 4 phase as a candidate for the equilibrium phase diagram.« less
  5. Density functional theory calculations have been used with spin-orbit coupling and on-site Coulomb correction (GGA + U) methods to investigate the U-Si system. Structural prediction methods were employed to identify alternate stable structures. Convex hulls of the U-Si system were constructed for each of the methods to highlight the competing energetics of various phases. For GGA calculations, new structures are predicted to be dynamically stable, but these have not been experimentally observed. When the GGA + U (U eff > 1.3 eV) method is considered, the experimentally observed structures are predicted to be energetically preferred. Phonon calculations were used tomore » investigate the energy predictions and showed that the use of the GGA + U method removes the significant imaginary frequencies observed for U 3Si 2 when the correction is not considered. In conclusion, total and partial electron density of states calculations were also performed to understand the role of GGA + U methods and orbitals on the bonding and stability of U-Si compounds.« less
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  6. The diffusivity of the solid fission products (FP) Zr (Zr 4+), Ru (Ru 4+, Ru 3+), Ce (Ce 4+), Y (Y 3+), La (La 3+), Sr (Sr 2+) and Ba (Ba 2+) by a vacancy mechanism has been calculated, using a combination of density functional theory (DFT) and empirical potential (EP) calculations. The activation energies for the solid fission products are compared to the activation energy for Xe fission gas atoms calculated previously. Apart from Ru, the solid fission products all exhibit higher activation energy than Xe. Furthermore, for all solid FPs except Y 3+, the migration of the FPmore » has lower barrier than the migration of a neighboring U atom, making the latter the rate limiting step for direct migration. An indirect mechanism, consisting of two successive migrations around the FP, is also investigated. The calculated diffusivities show that most solid fission products diffuse with rates similar to U self-diffusion. But, Ru, Ba and Sr exhibit faster diffusion than the other solid FPs, with Ru 3+ and Ru 4+ diffusing even faster than Xe for T < 1200 K. The diffusivities correlate with the observed fission product solubility in UO 2, and the tendency to form metallic and oxide second phase inclusions.« less

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