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Temperature-dependent cavity swelling in dual-ion irradiated Fe and Fe-Cr ferritic alloys...

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Acta Materialia
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Fe-Cr ferritic-martensitic (FM) steels are promising structural material candidates for fusion and advanced fission reactors due to their attractive mechanical properties and volumetric swelling resistance. However, significant discrepancies exist regarding the effect of solutes and irradiation temperature on cavity swelling under ion versus neutron irradiation conditions. In this study, simultaneous dual ion irradiations (8 MeV Ni3+ ions and energy-degraded 3.5 MeV He2+ ions) were used to quantify the cavity swelling behavior in ultra-high purity Fe and Fe-Cr alloys (3-14 wt.% Cr), Fe-10 wt.% Cr-780 wt.ppm C, and Eurofer97 FM steel. The irradiations were conducted over a wide temperature range (400-550°C) with a mid-range dose of ~30 displacements per atom (dpa) and 0.1 appm/dpa He implantation rate. Using state-of-the-art transmission electron microscopy (TEM), we reveal that pure Fe has a ~50°C lower peak swelling temperature difference than Fe-Cr alloys, which is attributed to higher vacancy mobility in pure Fe. Chromium solute appears to strongly suppress cavity swelling in Fe-Cr alloys for temperatures below ~470°C, but seems to have little effect or slightly enhances swelling above ~470°C. Cavities were observed in all the irradiated samples between 400-550°C. This indicates that the narrow temperature range of observable cavities reported in prior ion irradiated Fe-Cr ferritic alloy studies is likely an artifact associated with the use of low ion energies (<5 MeV), which leads to pronounced near-surface and implanted ion effects that suppress cavity swelling even at midrange depths (particularly at high temperatures).