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Evaluation of damage in neutron irradiated boron carbide

Abstract : When irradiated in a reactor, neutron absorber materials undergo two different damages induced, first, by the elastic scattering of neutrons; second by the neutron absorption reactions. In boron carbide irradiated in a fast neutron flux, neutron scattering and the slowing-down of He and Li arising from the (n,α) absorption reaction both lead to the displacement of B and C atoms which energy ranges up to a few MeV. Simulating the neutron damage by ion irradiation requires the calculation of the damage produced in both cases. In this paper we propose an estimation of the actual defect production rate resulting from the fast neutron irradiation. For this, we first estimate the energy spectra of both the primary knocked-on atoms and atoms created by the absorption reactions, here in a Phenix-like neutron spectrum. We then deduce from SRIM calculations the actual energy distribution of all the atoms displaced along the displacements cascades induced by those primary projectiles. At last, we obtain an estimation of the number of displaced atoms per produced helium, about 305, most of them resulting from neutron scattering. This is far from a Kinchin-Pease or NRT estimation, of the order of several thousands, this arising from the fact that most of the energy is dissipated through electronic interactions. Such results are then used in order to perform ion irradiations aiming at a realistic simulation of synergetic effects of helium implantation and damage production.
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Dominique Gosset, Patrick Herter, Vianney Motte. Evaluation of damage in neutron irradiated boron carbide. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms, Elsevier, 2018, 434, pp.66-72. ⟨10.1016/j.nimb.2018.08.021⟩. ⟨cea-02430090⟩

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