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Title: Nano-Scale Fission Product Phases in an Irradiated U-7Mo Alloy Nuclear Fuel

Irradiated nuclear fuel is a very difficult material to characterize. Due to the large radiation fields associated with these materials, they are hard to handle and typically have to be contained in large hot cells. Even the equipment used for performing characterization is housed in hot cells or shielded glove boxes. The result is not only a limitation in the techniques that can be employed for characterization, but also a limitation in the size of features that can be resolved The most standard characterization techniques include light optical metallography (WM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and electron probe microanalysis (EPMA). These techniques are applied to samples that are typically prepared using grinding and polishing approaches that will always generate some mechanical damage on the sample surface. As a result, when performing SEM analysis, for example, the analysis is limited by the quality of the sample surface that can be prepared. However, a new approach for characterizing irradiated nuclear fuel has recently been developed at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) in Idaho Falls, Idaho. It allows for a dramatic improvement in the quality of characterization that can be performed when using an instrument like an SEM. This new approach uses a dual-beammore » scanning microscope, where one of the beams isa focused ion beam (FIB), which can be used to generate specimens of irradiated fuel (-10µm x 10µm) for microstructural characterization, and the other beam is the electron beam of an SEM. One significant benefit of this approach is that the specimen surface being characterized has received much less damage (and smearing) than is caused by the more traditional approaches, which enables the imaging of nanometer­ sized microstructural features in the SEM. The process details are for an irradiated low-enriched uranium (LEU) U-Mo alloy fuel Another type of irradiated fuel that has been characterized using this technique is a mixed oxide fuel.« less
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Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 1551--9295
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Microscopy Today; Journal Volume: 22; Journal Issue: 5
Research Org:
Idaho National Laboratory (INL)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
11 NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE AND FUEL MATERIALS; electron probe microanalysis; focused ion beam; Irradiated nuclear fuel; optical metallography; scanning electron microscopy