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Investigation of the formation mechanisms of the High Burnup Structure in the spent nuclear fuel - Experimental simulation with ions beams

Abstract : The aim of this thesis is to investigate and reproduce the specific features of the microstructure of the high burnup structure of the irradiated nuclear fuel and to explore the various relevant parameters involved in the formation of such a structure, in evaluating their importance, and in clarifying the synergies between them. This have been performed by using a very simplified model system – namely uranium dioxide single crystals- irradiated with low energy La and Xe ions at 773 K, corresponding to the temperature at the periphery of the genuine fuel. The energies and masses of bombarding ions were chosen to investigate the destabilization of the solid due to: (i) the elastic nuclear collisions and by (ii) the chemical contribution of implanting impurities at high concentrations by implanting different ions in UO₂, namely Xe and La, having very different solubility: La species are soluble in UO₂ while Xe ions are insoluble. In situ Transmission electron Microscopy (TEM) and in situ Rutherford Backscattering Spectrometry in the channeling mode (RBS/C), both techniques coupled to ion irradiation, were performed to visualize, quantify and provide information with respect to the fraction of radiation-induced defects and the formation of bubbles, cavities, or precipitates. The channeling data were analyzed afterwards by Monte Carlo simulations assuming two class of defects comprising (i) randomly displaced atoms (RDA) and (ii) bent channels (BC) defects. Regarding the RDA evolution, a sharp increase step appears from 0.4 to 4.0 dpa (corresponding to a low concentration of implanted ions) regardless of nature of ions followed by a saturation of the fraction of RDA for both ions over a wide range of irradiation. A sharp increase of RDA fraction is observed specifically for crystals implanted with Xe ions at a high concentration exceeding 1.5 % (corresponding to the dose of more than 125 dpa). Regarding the BC evolution, for both ions, the evolution shows an increase in the fraction of BC up to 4.0 dpa then the fraction of BC almost saturates for Xe and La ions. In situ TEM results show that a similar radiation-induced defects appear for both ions and the same evolution of defects as a function of the fluence is observed. The various defects evolved as a function of the fluence: starting from the black dot defects formation that were observed as a first type of defects created, then dislocation lines and loops appeared and evolved until they started to be become less distinguishable, the restructuring process continued by forming a tangled dislocation network. A high density of nanometer-sized gas bubbles with a mean diameter 2 nm were observed at room temperature for the Xe-implanted crystal at a threshold dose of 4 dpa. The coupling between both techniques (in situ RBS/C and TEM) demonstrates that the difference between the two plateaus of saturation between the two ions and the dramatic increase of RDA at high concentration of implanted Xe ions can be ascribed to: (i) the solubility of La compared to Xe ions leading to the formation of nanometer-sized gas bubbles and (ii) the size of implanted species in UO₂ matrix where insoluble Xe atoms have an atomic radius much larger than the cationic radius of U⁴⁺ atoms, (La³⁺ atoms have a similar atomic radius as U⁴⁺ atoms) responsible for more stress in UO₂ crystal.
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Submitted on : Thursday, January 25, 2018 - 2:07:11 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, September 16, 2020 - 5:26:33 PM
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  • HAL Id : tel-01692764, version 1



Yara Haddad. Investigation of the formation mechanisms of the High Burnup Structure in the spent nuclear fuel - Experimental simulation with ions beams. Nuclear Experiment [nucl-ex]. Université Paris Saclay (COmUE), 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017SACLS519⟩. ⟨tel-01692764⟩



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