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Development of mesopores in superfine grain graphite neutron-irradiated at high fluence...

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663 to 675

Microstructural changes induced by neutron irradiation of superfine grain graphite G347A (Tokai Carbon, Japan) were examined by nitrogen adsorption at 77 K and by three microscopy techniques (SEM, TEM and FIB-SEM tomography). The specimens were irradiated at doses of up to 30 dpa, covering stages before and after the turnaround fluence at three temperatures (300, 450, 750 °C) of their irradiation envelope. The initial graphite densification at low fluences did not produce any detectable effect in the pore size range (<350 nm) measured by gas adsorption. However, graphite irradiated at high fluences, after turnaround, showed severe structural changes. At all three temperatures and high irradiation fluences, gas adsorption revealed significant increase of the volume of narrow mesopores (<5–20 nm) and up to five times increase of BET surface area, both in linear relationship with the relative volume expansion. Analysis of microscopy images showed multiplication of fine macropores (>50 nm) at high irradiation fluences and more structural changes on multiple scales, from nanometers to microns. This work demonstrates the unique ability of gas adsorption techniques to analyze open pores with sizes between sub-nanometer and sub-micron in bulk nuclear graphite, with supporting microscopy results.