A multi-physics modelling framework to describe the behaviour of nano-scale multilayer systems undergoing irradiation damage

Abstract : Radiation damage is known to lead to material failure and thus is of critical importance to lifetime and safety within nuclear reactors.While mechanical behaviour of materials under irradiation has been the subject of numerous studies, the current predictive capabilities of such phenomena appear limited.The clustering of point defects such as vacancies and self interstitial atoms gives rise to creep, void swelling and material embrittlement.Nanoscale metallic multilayer systems have be shown to have the ability to evacuate such point defects, hence delaying the occurrence of critical damage.In addition, they exhibit outstanding mechanical properties.The objective of this work is to develop a thermodynamically consistent continuum framework at the meso and nano-scales, which accounts for the major physical processes encountered in such metallic multilayer systems and is able to predict their microstuctural evolution and behavior under irradiation.Mainly three physical phenomena are addressed in the present work: stress-diffusion coupling and diffusion induced creep, the void nucleation and growth in multilayer systems under irradiation, and the interaction of dislocations with the multilayer interfaces.In this framework, the microstructure is explicitly modeled, in order to account accurately for their effects on the system behavior.The diffusion creep strain rate is related to the gradient of the vacancy flux.A Cahn-Hilliard approach is used to model void nucleation and growth, and the diffusion equations for vacancies and self interstitial atoms are complemented to take into account the production of point defects due to irradiation cascades, the mutual recombination of defects and their evacuation through grain boundaries.In metallic multilayers, an interface affected zone is defined, with an additional slip plane to model the interface shearable character, and where dislocations cores are able to spread.The model is then implemented numerically using the finite elements method.Simulations of biaxial creep of polycrystalline aggregates coupled with vacancy diffusion are performed for the first time, and predict strongly heterogeneous viscoplastic strain fields.The classical macroscopic strain rate dependence on the stress and grain size is also retrieved.Void denuded zones close to the multilayer interfaces are obtained in irradiation simulations of a multilayer, in agreement with experimental observations.Finally, tensile tests of Cu-Nb multilayers are simulated in 3D, where it is shown that the effect of elastic anisotropy is negligible, and evidencing a complex deformation mode.
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Aurélien Villani. A multi-physics modelling framework to describe the behaviour of nano-scale multilayer systems undergoing irradiation damage. Materials and structures in mechanics [physics.class-ph]. Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris, 2015. English. ⟨NNT : 2015ENMP0002⟩. ⟨tel-01139357⟩

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