Date of Award

Summer 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Nuclear Engineering

First Advisor

Ahmed Hassanein

Committee Member 1

Anter A. El-Azab

Committee Member 2

Eric P. Kvam

Committee Member 3

Jean P. Allain


Tungsten remains a leading candidate for plasma facing component (PFC) in future fusion devices. This is in large part due to its strong thermal and mechanical properties. The ITER project has already chosen to use an all tungsten divertor. Despite having a high melting temperature and low erosion rate, tungsten faces a large variety of issues when subject to fusion like conditions. These include embrittlement, melting, and extreme morphology change (growth of fuzz nanostructure). The work presented here investigates mechanisms that drive surface morphology change in tungsten materials exposed to fusion relevant plasmas. Specifically, tungsten materials of different grain sizes are studied to elucidate the impact of grain boundaries on irradiation damage.

Exposure of ultrafine (< 500 nm) and nanocrystalline (< 100 nm) grain materials are exposed to high flux helium plasmas at the Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research (DIFFER) in the Netherlands. These samples are then compared to large grain (1-5 microns) tungsten materials exposed to similar conditions at DIFFER or tungsten samples from other published studies. After exposing the ultrafine grain materials to a variety of helium plasmas to different fluences between 1 x 10 23 - 1 x 1027 ions-m-2 , temperatures between 600-1500 °C, and ion energies between 25-70 eV, it is observed that ultrafine grained tungsten samples develop fuzz at an order of magnitude larger fluence when compared to large grained tungsten. These observations suggest that grain boundaries play a role in dictating damage accumulation and damage rate caused by ion bombardment of tungsten surfaces.

These experiments are complemented by In-situ TEM analysis during 8 keV Helium irradiation of ultrafine tungsten samples to see damage propagation in different sized grains in real time. The in-situ TEM work was completed in a JEOL JEM-2000FX TEM at the Microscope and Ion Accelerator for Materials Investigation (MIAMI) facility at the University of Huddersfield. The TEM results show a strong dependence on grain size and defect production rate. Images also suggest that smaller grains tend to form helium bubbles at the grain boundaries. The distribution of bubble size and location is significantly different in nanocrystalline grains.