Experimentally quantifying the mechanical effects of radiation damage in reactor materials is necessary for the development and qualification of new materials for improved performance and safety. This can be achieved in a high-throughput fashion through a combination of ion beam irradiation and small scale mechanical testing in contrast to the high cost and laborious nature of bulk testing of reactor irradiated samples. The current work focuses on using spherical nanoindentation stress-strain curves on unirradiated and proton irradiated (10 dpa at 360 °C) 304 stainless steel to quantify the mechanical effects of radiation damage. Spherical nanoindentation stress-strain measurements show a radiation-induced increase in indentation yield strength from 1.36 GPa to 2.72 GPa and a radiation-induced increase in indentation work hardening rate of 10 GPa–30 GPa. These measurements are critically compared against Berkovich nanohardness, micropillar compression, and micro-tension measurements on the same material and similar grain orientations. The ratio of irradiated to unirradiated yield strength increases by a similar factor of 2 when measured via spherical nanoindentation or Berkovich nanohardness testing. A comparison of spherical indentation stress-strain curves to uniaxial (micropillar and micro-tension) stress-strain curves was achieved using a simple scaling relationship which shows good agreement for the unirradiated condition and poor agreement in post-yield behavior for the irradiated condition. The disagreement between spherical nanoindentation and uniaxial stress-strain curves is likely due to the plastic instability that occurs during uniaxial tests but is absent during spherical nanoindentation tests.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors acknowledge funding from Department of Energy, Nuclear Engineering Enabling Technologies (DOE-NEET) - Reactor Materials program. This work was performed, in part, at the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies, an Office of Science User Facility operated for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science. Los Alamos National Laboratory, an affirmative action equal opportunity employer, is operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, for the National Nuclear Security Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy under contract DE-AC52-06NA25396. SP gratefully acknowledges funding from the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Director's Postdoctoral Fellowship and University of Nevada, Reno start-up faculty funds for this work. The authors also wish to thank Mr. Dipen Patel and Prof. Surya Kalidindi at the Georgia Institute of Technology for their thoughtful discussion of the indentation data. We are grateful for funding by the Institute for Materials Science (IMS) at LANL for funding visits by Prof. Surya Kalidindi. In addition, the authors wish to thank Dr. Zhijie Jiao at the University of Michigan for performing the ion-beam irradiation.