Atomic scale analysis of defect clustering and predictions of their concentrations in UO2+x

E Caglak and K Govers and D Lamoen and PE Labeau and M Verwerft, JOURNAL OF NUCLEAR MATERIALS, 541, 152403 (2020).

DOI: 10.1016/j.jnucmat.2020.152403

The physical properties of uranium dioxide vary greatly with stoichiometry. Oxidation towards hyper-stoichiometric UO2 - UO2+x - might be encountered at various stages of the nuclear fuel cycle if oxidative conditions are met; the impact of stoichiometry changes upon physical properties should therefore be properly assessed to ensure safe and reliable operations. These physical properties are intimately linked to the arrangement of atomic defects in the crystalline structure. The evolution of the defect concentration with environmental parameters - oxygen partial pressure and temperature - were evaluated by means of a point defect model where the reaction energies are derived from atomic- scale simulations. To this end, various configurations and net charge states of oxygen interstitial clusters in UO2 have been calculated. Various methodologies have been tested to determine the optimum cluster configurations and a rigid lattice approach turned out to be the most useful strategy to optimize defect configuration structures. Ultimately, results from the point defect model were discussed and compared to experimental measurements of stoichiometry dependence on oxygen partial pressure and temperature. (C) 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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