Welding-induced microstructure in austenitic stainless steels before and after neutron irradiation
The effects of neutron irradiation on the microstructure of welded joints made of austenitic stainless steels have been investigated. The materials were welded AISI 304 and AISI 347, so-called test weld materials, and irradiated with neutrons at 300 degrees C to 0.3 and 1.0 dpa. In addition, an AISI 304 type from a decommissioned pressurised water reactor, so-called in-service material, which had accumulated a maximum dose of 0.35 dpa at about 300 degrees C, was investigated. The microstructure of heat-affected zones and base materials was analysed before and after irradiation, using transmission electron microscopy. Neutron diffraction was performed for internal stress measurements. It was found that the heat-affected zone contains, relative to the base material, a higher dislocation density, which relates well to a higher residual stress level and, after irradiation, a higher irradiation-induced defect density. In both materials, the irradiation-induced defects are of the same type, consisting in black dots and Frank dislocation loops. Careful analysis of the irradiation-induced defect contrast was performed and it is explained why no stacking fault tetrahedra could be identified. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.