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Electron tomography of unirradiated and irradiated nuclear graphite...

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Journal of Nuclear Materials
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Graphite is the moderator material of several Generation IV nuclear reactor concepts, as well as the British Advanced Gas-cooled Reactors (AGR). Porosity can heavily influence the material properties, mechanical irradiation response, and neutron induced shrinkage or swelling of nuclear-grade graphite. Due to the sub-micron size of several types of pores found in graphite, only a high-resolution imaging technique such as electron tomography are capable of visualizing these features in three dimensions. In this research, we used electron tomography to characterize as-received and neutron irradiated samples of IG-110 nuclear-grade graphite to show for the first time the 3D structure of both native and irradiation-induced nano-cracks. This technique also reveals unique characteristics of graphite such as the structure that surrounds pores and could be used to inform molecular dynamic simulations of irradiated graphite and experimental techniques such as gas-absorption. This research also shows the utility of this technique for the study of other nuclear porous carbon-based materials.