Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New technique allows closer study of how radiation damages materials

Date:
August 6, 2013
Source:
North Carolina State University
Summary:
Scientists have developed a technique that provides real-time images of how magnesium changes at the atomic scale when exposed to radiation. The technique may give researchers new insights into how radiation weakens the integrity of radiation-tolerant materials, such as those used in space exploration and in nuclear energy technologies.

Researchers used an HRTEM to simultaneously irradiate the magnesium and collect images of the material at the atomic scale.
Credit: Weizong Xu

A team of researchers led by North Carolina State University has developed a technique that provides real-time images of how magnesium changes at the atomic scale when exposed to radiation. The technique may give researchers new insights into how radiation weakens the integrity of radiation-tolerant materials, such as those used in space exploration and in nuclear energy technologies.

"We used high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) to simultaneously irradiate the magnesium and collect images of the material at the atomic scale," says Weizong Xu, a Ph.D. student at NC State and lead author of a paper describing the work. "It is a new way to use an existing technology, and it allowed us to see voids forming and expanding in the material.

"Prior to this, we knew radiation could cause voids that weaken the material, but we didn't know how the voids formed," Xu says. Voids are physical gaps in materials that begin at the atomic level and can cause a material to swell or crack.

The researchers looked at magnesium for two reasons. First, magnesium's atoms arrange themselves into tightly packed layers in a hexagonal structure.

"This is important, because many radiation-tolerant materials have the same structure - including zirconium, which is widely used in research on radiation-tolerant materials such as those used in nuclear power plants," says Dr. Suveen Mathaudhu, a co-author of the paper and adjunct assistant professor of materials science and engineering at NC State under the U.S. Army Research Office's Staff Research Program.

The second reason they chose magnesium is because it takes less energy to cause void formation in magnesium than in other materials with similar structures, such as zirconium. This lower energy threshold is what allowed researchers to use HRTEM to trigger void formation and capture atomic-scale images of the process with the same microscopy beam.

"You couldn't use this technique on zirconium, for example," Mathaudhu says. "But what we're learning about void formation gives us insight into how radiation damages these kinds of materials.

"In addition to any energy applications, we need to develop new radiation-tolerant materials if we want to explore deep space," Mathaudhu says. "This may move us one step closer to that goal."

"If we can improve our understanding of the mechanisms behind void formation, we can begin developing materials to control the problem," says Dr. Yuntian Zhu, a professor of materials science and engineering at NC State and senior author of the paper.

The paper, "In-situ atomic-scale observation of irradiation-induced void formation," was published online Aug. 5 in Nature Communications. The paper was co-authored by Dr. Guangming Cheng, a former postdoctoral researcher at NC State; Dr. Weiwei Jian, a postdoctoral researcher at NC State; Dr. Carl Koch, Kobe Steel Distinguished Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at NC State; Dr. Yongfeng Zhang of Idaho National Laboratory; and Dr. Paul C. Millett of the University of Arkansas. The work was supported by the U.S. Army Research Office and Idaho National Laboratory.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by North Carolina State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Weizong Xu, Yongfeng Zhang, Guangming Cheng, Weiwei Jian, Paul C. Millett, Carl C. Koch, Suveen N. Mathaudhu, Yuntian Zhu. In-situ atomic-scale observation of irradiation-induced void formation. Nature Communications, 2013; 4 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3288

Cite This Page:

North Carolina State University. "New technique allows closer study of how radiation damages materials." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130806111306.htm>.
North Carolina State University. (2013, August 6). New technique allows closer study of how radiation damages materials. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130806111306.htm
North Carolina State University. "New technique allows closer study of how radiation damages materials." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130806111306.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Why Did Nike Fire Most Of Its Nike FuelBand Team?

Why Did Nike Fire Most Of Its Nike FuelBand Team?

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) Nike fired most of its Digital Sport hardware team, the group behind Nike's FuelBand device. Could Apple or an overcrowded market be behind layoffs? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the industry fell under intense scrutiny. Now, small underground nuclear power plants are being considered as the possible future of the nuclear energy. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show

Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) An electric car that proponents hope will replace horse-drawn carriages in New York City has also been revealed at the auto show. (Apr. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

AFP (Apr. 17, 2014) It walks and runs, even up and down stairs. It can open a bottle and serve a drink, and politely tries to shake hands with a stranger. Meet the latest ASIMO, Honda's humanoid robot. Duration: 00:54 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins