Focussed ion beam - scanning electron microscope (FIB-SEM) 3D examination was conducted on three standard UO2 and one Cr doped UO2 high burn-up pressurized water reactor (PWR) fuel samples. This work complemented other microanalysis examination, including an electron backscattered diffraction (EBSD) work on the polished surface. A parallel article giving the EBSD results was submitted simultaneously. Together, they found, in all the central area of these high burn-up samples: (i) a restructuring of the initial grains into smaller sub-grains forming low angle boundaries and with crystal orientations around that of their parent grains; and (ii) intragranular bubbles mostly situated on these low angle boundaries. The FIB-SEM 3D examination showed how such inter-sub-grain bubbles start as small compact but also small lenticular bubbles, similar to typical small intergranular lenticular bubbles. With increasing burn-up, these lenticular bubbles get thicker and locally interlink to form more complex bubbles. However, no long distance networks, between the sub-grains or between the original grains, were found. Such networks could have been a path for part of the fission gases to reach the grain boundaries, the grain edges (the intersection line of three grain boundaries), and the rod free volumes. These FIB-SEM 3D examinations brought details on the intragranular and intergranular bubbles situation for each studied volume. The distribution of the intragranular bubbles according to their sizes and shapes was exposed. The central restructuring, studied in this work, is likely to play a role in the increase of the fission gas release fractions at high burn-up. This work is an incentive to study further this restructuring and the bubbles formed, combining different approaches.
Restructuring in high burn-up pressurized water reactor UO2 fuel central parts: Experimental 3D characterization by focused ion beam—scanning electron microscopy
Note: This paper is part of the Special Topic on Radiation Effects in Materials.
Jean Noirot, Rébecca Dowek, Isabelle Zacharie-Aubrun, Thierry Blay, Martiane Cabié, Myriam Dumont; Restructuring in high burn-up pressurized water reactor UO2 fuel central parts: Experimental 3D characterization by focused ion beam—scanning electron microscopy. J. Appl. Phys. 21 November 2022; 132 (19): 195902. https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0105072
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