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Studying Helium Behavior in Nuclear Structural Materials with SIMS – Application note

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Helium effects on the microstructural and mechanical properties of metals and alloys are key issues in materials research for fission and fusion energy. Helium migration and trapping may lead to void swelling, hardening, creep fracture, blistering, and surface exfoliation. It is therefore essential to better understand helium diffusion and migration mechanisms in order to ensure longevity of the structural nuclear materials.

The application note reviews two recent studies involving CAMECA SIMS instruments. In the first one, an IMS series SIMS microprobe was used to measure the in-depth distribution of helium in polycrystalline pure body-centered cubic metals which are of great interest for future nuclear systems. In another experiment, an IMS 7f-Auto allowed to investigate the retention of helium in nanochannel tungsten films, tungsten being considered as one of the most promising plasma facing materials.

Compared to other techniques such as Nuclear Reaction Analysis or High Energy Elastic Recoil Detection Analysis that require energetic ion beams involving the use of accelerators, SIMS has the advantage of providing a direct measurement of the helium in-depth distribution (without mathematical post-treatment) with high sensitivity and excellent depth resolution.

The methodologies described in this application note can be applied to other materials including metallic alloys and ceramics.

Download the application note SIMS Applications to Nuclear Science: Helium Behavior in Structural Materials to learn more!