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A High Temperature Cell for Investigating Interfacial Structure on the Molecular Scale in Molten Salt/Alloy Systems

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Review of Scientific Instruments
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In this work, we describe the design and development of an in situ neutron reflectometry cell for high temperature investigations of structural changes occurring at the interface between inorganic salts, in their molten state up to 800 °C, and corrosion resistant alloys or other surfaces. In the cell, a molten salt is confined by an annular ring of single crystal sapphire constrained between the sample substrate and a sapphire plate using two gold O-rings, enclosing a liquid salt volume of 20 ml, along with a dynamic cell volume to accommodate expansion of the liquid with heating. As a test case for the cell, we report on an in situ neutron reflectometry measurement of the interface between a eutectic salt mixture of MgCl2–KCl (32:68 molar ratio) and a single crystal sapphire substrate at 450 °C, resulting in the formation of a 60 Å layer having a scattering length density of 1.72 × 10−6 Å−2. While the origin of this layer is uncertain, it is likely to have resulted from the salt reacting with an existing impurity layer on the sapphire substrate.