The followup of the embrittlement of nuclear power reactor pressure vessels (RPVs) is of critical importance for the safety assessment in the nuclear industry. The prediction of their future degradation is based on the extrapolation of the past testing of surveillance materials irradiated in the power reactor and in material testing reactors with accelerated dose rates. Using positron annihilation spectroscopy, however, we here reveal a kinetics of irradiation-induced precipitation, i.e., very low dose rate can significantly enhance Cu nanoprecipitation. The mechanism results in the embrittlement in practical RPVs, occurring at a much earlier stage than that found from accelerated tests, suggesting that accelerated tests are not enough for prediction of the embrittlement from Cu nanoprecipitation.

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