1 Risø National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy, Technical University of Denmark2 unknown3 Department of Management Engineering, Technical University of Denmark
The phenomenon of plastic flow localization in the form of "cleared" channels has been frequently observed in neutron irradiated metals and alloys for more than 40 years. So far, however, no experimental evidence as to how and where these channels areinitiated during post-irradiation deformation has emerged. Recently we have studied the problem of initiation and propagation of cleared channels during post-irradiation tensile tests of pure copper and a copper alloy irradiated with fission neutrons.Tensile specimens of pure copper and a precipitation hardened copper alloy (CuCrZr) were neutron irradiated at 323 and 373K to displacement doses in the range of 0.01 to 0.3 dpa (displacement per atom) and tensile tested at the irradiation temperature.The stress-strain curves clearly indicated the occurrence of a yield drop. The post-deformation microstructural examinations revealed that the channels are formed already in the elastic regime and their density increases with increasing plastic strain.The channels appear to have been initiated at grain boundaries, twin boundaries, at relatively large inclusions and even at the previously formed cleared channels. Even though the channels are produced throughout the whole tensile test, no clear evidencehas been found for the operation of Frank-Read sources in the volume between the channels. Channels have been observed to penetrate through annealing twins, in some cases stopping at the opposite twin boundary and in other cases penetrating even throughthe opposite twin boundary and continuing further into the grain. In some cases channels have been found to penetrate through grain boundaries too. It is suggested that the high stress levels reached during deformation of the irradiated specimensactivate dislocation sources at the sites of stress concentration at the boundaries and inclusions. The propagation of these newly generated dislocations in the matrix causes the formation of cleared channels. Implications of these results are discussedwith specific reference to the origin and consequences of plastic flow localization.