Reduction in Ductility of Austenitic Stainless Steel after Irradiation


RECENTLY it has been established that the reduction in ductility of austenitic stainless steel in the temperature range 650°–850° C after neutron irradiation is caused primarily by the thermal neutrons1,2. The decrease in ductility occurs in the non-uniform portion of the stress–strain curves and the fracture is intergranular2–5. The elevated temperature ductility cannot be recovered even by annealing for 0.5 h at temperatures above 1,000° C (refs. 4 and 6). Furthermore, the magnitude of the effect is associated with the boron-10 content of the steel7. It appears most probable, therefore, that one or both of the products of boron-10 (nα) lithium-7 transmutation are responsible for this effect. A mechanism, based on the presence of helium at the grain boundaries, has been suggested8 recently to explain the decrease in ductility and the tendency to intergranular fracture, and after some conditions of irradiation helium bubbles have been observed at the grain boundaries9, using transmission electron microscope techniques. However, neither the relative nor additive effects on the elevated temperature ductility is known for such small amounts of helium and lithium as those formed by the thermal neutron transformation of the boron-10 isotope present in the steel.

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  1. 1

    Roberts, A. C., and Harries, D. R., Nature, 200, 772 (1963).

  2. 2

    Broomfield, G. H., Harries, D. R., and Roberts, A. C., J. Iron and Steel Inst., 203, 502 (1965).

  3. 3

    Hughes, N. A., and Caley, J., J. Nucl. Mat., 10, 60 (1963).

  4. 4

    Fennell, J., and Roberts, A. C., J. Nucl. Mat., 12, 167 (1964).

  5. 5

    Martin, W. R., and Weir, J. R., Nature, 202, 997 (1964).

  6. 6

    Higgins, P. R. B., and Roberts, A. C., A.E.R.E. R4565 (1964).

  7. 7

    Barton, P. J., and Pfeil, P. C. L. (personal communication).

  8. 8

    Barnes, R. S., A.E.R.E. R4655 (1964).

  9. 9

    Rowcliffe, A. (personal communication).

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HIGGINS, P., ROBERTS, A. Reduction in Ductility of Austenitic Stainless Steel after Irradiation. Nature 206, 1249–1250 (1965).

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