Recent studies have revealed the advantages of using single-phase concentrated solid-solution alloys (SP-CSAs) over using traditional alloys, which suffer chemical alterations when exposed to corrosion and high radiation. The American researchers are currently exploring the impact of chemical alterations on solid-solution alloys, to determine whether these could operate in the nuclear power field or other fields.
A team of researchers funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Frontier Research Center in collaboration with the University of Tennessee Oak Ridge National Laboratory Ion Beam Materials Laboratory have discovered that SP-CSAs are able to endure radiation damage at an atomic level. This is an important feature that allows further steps to be taken into the construction of future energy systems to enhance alloys to prevent alterations induced by radiation.
While traditional metal alloys usually contain a single primary component, solid-solution alloys are comprised of two or more elements that have same-level or near-equal concentration in relation to the other principle elements that are present within the solution. The existence of such elements in the crystal lattice creates a disordered chemical environment in the solution, leading to enhanced chemical and mechanical properties. The result is that the thermal conductivity and energy production are increasing.
Moreover, the SP-CSAs have been found to have another beneficial property: increased damage resistance, which has been proven by comparing the results of molecular dynamic simulations on single-phase NiFe and NiCoCr alloys to pure Ni, after great pressure was applied on the alloys. In addition to this, solid-solution alloys also presented irradiation resistance, which further helps prevent deformation and micro-structural changes in the metal compositions.
The defect aggregation that was found as a result of extended exposure to irradiation is said to be able to be manipulated by adjusting the atomic complexity of the concentrated SP-CSAs. The team also acknowledges that the combination of the elements and also the volume of the element species found in the solid-solution alloys have a great influence on reducing the damaged accumulation and irradiation.