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This is tutorial for K-12 students. This involves the analysis of a relevant research problem in nuclear materials - the segregation of chromium (Cr) and helium (He) to grain boundaries in iron (Fe). This project will introduce a student to using spreadsheet tools to extract information about this important reaction in nuclear energy applications. This is part of a program at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory designed to get high school students involved with STEM-related projects.

Author(s): Mark A. Tschopp, Fei Gao (PNNL), Joanna Sun (student, PNNL)


Here are some questions that may be needed to understand what we are doing in this example.

  • How does radiation damage materials? Here is a link to Radiation Material Science that gives a relatively good basic explanation of how radiation affects materials.
  • What is a point defect? Here is a link to find out about point defects.
  • What is a vacancy? It is a type of point defect. Here is a link to find out about a vacancy defect.
  • What is an interstitial atom? This is another type of point defect in a material. Here is a link to find out about interstitial defects. This is not used in the present example.
  • How are atoms arranged in a metal? Here is a link to find out about crystal structures. In this example, iron (Fe) is a body-centered cubic structure.
  • What is a grain boundary? Here is a link to find out about grain boundaries. Grain boundaries join two perfect lattices of different orientations.
  • What is segregation? Here is a link to find out about segregation to grain boundaries.
  • Why Chromium in Iron? Here is a link to find out about Chromium steels, otherwise known as stainless steels. These are commonly used in the nuclear industry for their corrosion resistance.
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