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Point defect evolution under irradiation: finite size effects and spatio-temporal correlations

Abstract : The evolution of point defect concentrations under irradiation is controlled by their diffusion properties, and by their formation and elimination mechanisms. The latter includes the mutual recombination of vacancies and interstitials, and the elimination of point defects at sinks. Two models are traditionally used to predict the defect concentration evolution, the standard rate theory (SRT) and the atomistic kinetic Monte Carlo (AKMC). We show in this work a large discrepancy in the defect concentrations between both methods when the average number of defects in the AKMC simulation box is close or lower than one. The reason is that AKMC naturally captures strong space and time correlations between vacancies and interstitials generated by the finite size of the periodic simulation box. These correlations strongly affect the recombination rate and the point defect concentrations. SRT fails to predict such correlations, and the corresponding solution deviates from the more accurate solution given by the AKMC simulation under similar conditions. These finite size correlation effects are strong when the elimination of point defects occurs by recombination only, but can still be significant in the presence of sinks. In order to account for the spacio-temporal correlation in a continuum framework, we introduce a Correlated Pair Theory (CPT). This theory fully takes into account the correlations between vacancy and interstitial pairs and predicts point defect concentrations in good agreement with AKMC simulations. Inversely, if the goal is for the AKMC to reproduce defect concentrations in bulk using small simulation boxes, the naturally occurring correlations need to be corrected. We show here that the CPT can be used to modify the elimination rates in the AKMC simulations, so as to yield point defect concentrations in agreement with SRT.
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Submitted on : Friday, May 7, 2021 - 3:19:04 PM
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Enrique Martinez, Frédéric Soisson, Maylise Nastar. Point defect evolution under irradiation: finite size effects and spatio-temporal correlations. Journal of Nuclear Materials, Elsevier, 2020, 539, pp.152233. ⟨10.1016/j.jnucmat.2020.152233⟩. ⟨cea-02927616⟩



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