Thermal gradient effect on helium and self-interstitial transport in tungsten

E Martinez and N Mathew and D Perez and S Blondel and D Dasgupta and BD Wirth and D Maroudas, JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSICS, 130, 215904 (2021).

DOI: 10.1063/5.0071935

First-wall materials in a fusion reactor are expected to withstand harsh conditions, with high heat and particle fluxes that modify the materials microstructure. These fluxes will create strong gradients of temperature and concentration of diverse species. Besides the He ash and the hydrogenic species, neutron particles generated in the fusion reaction will collide with the material creating intrinsic defects, such as vacancies, self-interstitials atoms (SIAs), and clusters of such point defects. These defects and the He atoms will then migrate in the presence of the aforementioned gradients. In this study, we use nonequilibrium molecular dynamics to analyze the transport of He and SIAs in the presence of a thermal gradient in tungsten. We observe that, in all cases, the defects and impurity atoms tend to migrate toward the hot regions of the tungsten sample. The resulting species concentration profiles are exponential distributions, rising toward the hot regions of the sample, in agreement with irreversible thermodynamics analysis. For both He atoms and SIAs, we find that the resulting species flux is directed opposite to the heat flux, indicating that species transport is governed by a Soret effect (thermal-gradient-driven diffusion) characterized by a negative heat of transport that drives species diffusion uphill (from the cooler to the hot regions of the sample). We demonstrate that the steady-state species profiles obtained accounting for the Soret effect vary significantly from those where temperature- gradient-driven transport is not considered and discuss the implications of such a Soret effect on the response to plasma exposure of plasma- facing tungsten.

Return to Publications page