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Nuclear Materials Science & Technology

The mission of the Nuclear Materials Science and Technology (NMST) Group is to advance the scientific understanding of radiation-induced changes in materials and to develop new materials, processes and damage mitigation techniques to improve materials performance and safety for nuclear applications.


NMST researchers include experimental and theoretical scientists with a central focus on studying radiation induced changes in physical, mechanical and structural properties of materials through simulation, and analysis of experimental or commercial reactor irradiated materials. The research expertise within the group spans from the development of novel materials and physical processes of radiation effects to qualification and licensing of materials for nuclear energy systems. The current material systems in the NMST Group portfolio include conventional and advanced steels, nonferrous metals and alloys, ceramics and ceramic composites, superconducting materials, polymeric insulation and carbon and its composites.

The NMST Group advances nuclear materials science by conducting innovative research and development projects for a broad spectrum of nuclear fusion and fission power and fundamental science programs. The primary areas of our current studies support research and development of structural, functional, and plasma-facing materials for fusion energy; structural and core component materials for both the current light water reactor fleet and future nuclear fission reactors; naval and other specialized nuclear applications; and highly accident-tolerant nuclear fuels and core components for advanced fission reactors.


The NMST group consists of five scientific directed research teams that include:

  • Advanced Nuclear Materials - Dr. Yutai Katoh, team lead
  • Nuclear Graphite - Dr. Tim Burchell, team lead
  • Nuclear Structural Alloys - Dr. Lizhen Tan, team lead
  • Radiation Effects Characterization - Dr. Phil Edmondson, team lead
  • Radiation Effects in Materials - Dr. Yanwen Zhang, team lead

NMST staff members work within and provide scientific oversight to the Low Activation Materials Development and Analysis lab. A facility dedicated to the characterization of radiological materials through thermophysical, mechanical and microstructural analysis utilizing a modern suite of instruments without the need for remote operation. NMST staff members operate the Fracture Mechanics Laboratory, an electron-beam irradiation laboratory along with non-radiological testing labs. Our staff members also work with the Irradiated Materials Examination and Testing (IMET, building 3025E) and Irradiated Fuels Examination Laboratory (IFEL, building 3525) hot cell facilities, the neutron and gamma irradiation facilities at the High Flux Isotope Reactor at ORNL, and Ion Beam Materials Laboratory at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.