Advanced materials characterization and modeling using synchrotron, neutron, TEM, and novel micro-mechanical techniques-A European effort to accelerate fusion materials development
For the realization of fusion as an energy source, the development of suitable materials is one of the most critical issues. The required material properties are in many aspects unique compared to the existing solutions, particularly the need for necessary resistance to irradiation with neutrons having energies up to 14 MeV. In addition to withstanding the effects of neutrons, the mechanical stability of structural materials has to be maintained up to high temperatures. Plasma-exposed materials must be compatible with the fusion plasma, both with regard to the generation of impurities injected into the plasma and resistance to erosion and hydrogen isotope retention. The development of materials fulfilling these and other criteria is a large-scale and long-term activity which involves basic materials science, materials development, characterization under both loading conditions and off-line, as well as testing under neutron flux-induced conditions. For the realization of a DEMO power plant, the materials solutions must be available in time. The European initiative FEMaS-CA-Fusion Energy Materials Science - Coordination Action - aims at accelerating materials development by integrating advanced materials characterization techniques, among them the efficient use of neutron and synchrotron-based techniques, into the fusion materials community. Further, high-end transmission electron microscopy and mechanical characterization (also on a microscopic level in order to facilitate tests of small material volumes, such as from neutron irradiation campaigns) are to be more extensively applied in fusion materials research. Finally, irradiation facilities for neutron damage benchmarking are contributing to the understanding of radiation effects. This overview demonstrates by means of a few examples the recent advancements in fusion materials research, e. g. by applying synchrotron X-ray and neutron tomography to novel materials and components. Deeper understanding of radiation effects is achieved by in situ TEM of materials under irradiation. Modeling of irradiation effects is closely linked to activities at irradiation facilities. Finally, new developments in mechanical testing on micro-and nano-scales are addressed. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.