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Major Research Thrusts

Radation Damage: Non-Destructive, Non-Contact Quantification

Project Lead: Michael Short
Co-Investigators: Cody Dennett
Postdocs: Nouf AlMousa, Sara Ferry
Students: Benjamin Dacus
UROPs: Aljazzy Alahmadi, Jaron Cota, Quincy Johnson, Johan Soto, Joshua Torres, Charles Phu, Armando Martinez, Lucy Nester

Collaborators: Saleem Al Dajani, Penghui Cao, Olivier Cometto, Arthur Every, Frank Garner, Khalid Hattar, Hannu Hänninen, Miaomiao Jin, Oleg Maksimkin, Alexei Maznev, Diana Merezhko, Mikhail Merezhko, Keith Nelson, Robert Simpson, Caroline Sorenson, Edwin Teo, Courtney Tower, Alejandro Vega-Flick, Kevin Woller, Angus Wylie

Project Description: Radiation damage represents the ultimate mesoscale scientific challenge, requiring the simultaneous understanding of processes from the atomic, through the mesoscale, to the engineering scales. Most radiation damage studies correlate dose in displacements per atom (DPA) to changes in material properties, even though changing nearly any condition or material parameter changes the DPA-property relationship. Therefore, a direct mesoscale measurement technique is needed to understand radiation damage's direct effects on material properties. This requires understanding the defect populations that create them. Our group has chosen transient grating (TG) spectroscopy as this mesoscale measurement technique, which we believe will be able to deconvolve the separate effects of radiation-induced defect populations on material properties by in-situ measurement of changes in the TG signal during material irradiation. Succeeding in this damage deconvolution will result in ultra-rapid qualification of radiation-resistant materials, and may help to solve decades-old questions about the long-term incubation of potentially disastrous radiation effects like void swelling and irradiation-induced creep. Read full project description

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Irradiation Assisted Corrosion in Molten Salt Reactors

Project Lead: Michael Short
Postdocs: Nouf AlMousa
Students: Samuel McAlpine, Sean Robertson, Weiyue Zhou

Collaborators: Taeyong Kim, Peter Stahle, Kevin Woller

Project Description: Companies like Kairos Power and TerraPower are developing new molten salt reactors, whose materials have not yet been tested to the end of the reactor's life. The ultimate goal of the project is to develop new alloys or composite materials in order to improve the affordability and performance of these and similar molten salt reactor concepts. Our group is studying how irradiation affects corrosion with a variety of alloys in molten salts, both clean and dirty, to simulate the reactor environment at the beginning and end of its life, respectively. Read full project description

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Fouling Deposits: Simulation, Characterization, and Prevention

Project Lead: Michael Short
Co-Investigators: Akshay Dave, Bren Phillips
Postdocs: Cigdem Toparli
Students: Max Carlson

Collaborators: Theodore Besmann, Matteo Bucci, Penghui Cao, Derek Gaston, Dennis Hussey, Brian Kendrick, Cody Permann, Chris Stanek, Evelyn Wang, Daniel Wells, Bilge Yildiz, Sidney Yip

Project Description: Fouling - the deposition of unwanted species - costs the US over $15 billion per year in degraded energy system performance. Many of the scientific reasons for the growth of fouling deposits, from the initial particulate adhesion events to controlling their growth, are not yet understood. We use high-temperature, high-pressure experimental systems and massively parallel, multiphysics simulations to grow reactor-relevant fouling deposits, probe their structure, simulate their effects on energy systems, and try to either control their mesoscopic structures or prevent their formation altogether. Read full project description

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Radiation Damage: Stored Energy Fingerprints

Project Lead: R. Scott Kemp, Michael Short
Co-Investigators: R. Scott Kemp
Postdocs: Kangpyo So
Students: Rachel Connick, Charlie Hirst
UROPs: Jordan Parker-Ashe

Collaborators: Penghui Cao

Project Description: The concept of "damage" remains difficult to quantify. If we had a universal way to measure damage, we would be able to better predict when materials would fail, measure their degradation during service, and design new ones to be both longer-lasting and more economical. The use of stored energy fingerprints is proposed as a way to quantify damage to materials from any damaging process. We focus on radiation damage as an ideal way to make all the types of defects found in most materials. A two-pronged experimental and simulation approach will be used to quantify and understand these stored energy fingerprints, relating them directly to the defects created by damage. Immediate applications of this work range from reconciling the differences between ion and neutron irradiation, to predicting material property changes due to radiation damage, to verifying the historical usage of uranium enrichment centrifuges. Read full project description

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Accident Tolerant Fuel (ATF) Development and Characterization

Project Lead: Michael Short
Postdocs: Sara Ferry, Kangpyo So
Students: Samuel McAlpine

Collaborators: Chi Bahn, Hannu Hänninen, Ji Hyun Kim, Michael Tonks, Jinsuo Zhang

Project Description: Our group is working to develop a new type of accident tolerant fuel (ATF), based on a multimetallic layered composite (MMLC) of Zircaloy and ferritic stainless steel. It is designed to compromise between the strength and neutronic properties of Zircaloy, with the higher oxidation resistance of FeCrSi alloys. Key to the performance of the MMLC are barrier layers, to keep the Zircaloy and iron-based layers from interacting with each other. These interactions can form brittle intermetallics or low melting point eutectic compounds, both of which must be avoided. Read full project description

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Other Group Projects

Geiger Counters for the Masses: iOS & Android Apps & $25 Geiger Kit

Project Lead: Michael Short

Collaborators: Anne White

Project Description: Building on the success of NSE's DIY Geiger counter kit, we are developing a miniaturized smartphone accessory with free iOS and Android apps to bring radiation detection to the masses. A $25 true Geiger counter (not a photodiode) is under construction, along with smartphone apps which allow the user to geotag radiation experiments, measure & subtract radiation background, and report their findings to the world. We are aiming for a 2018 release, and are actively seeking collaborators!

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Understanding the fundamental driver of semiconductor radiation tolerance

Project Lead: Michael Short
Co-Investigators: Christian Morath, Preston Webster
Students: Julie Logan

Project Description: Semiconductors have been shown experimentally to vary substantially in their radiation tolerance. This difference in hardness constrains the use of some semiconductors for space applications. The reason for varying radiation tolerance has yet to be thoroughly explored theoretically. The comparitive experimental and theoretical analysis performed here aims to fill this void and permit prediction of semiconductor radiation tolerance from first principles. We use density functional theory to obtain predictive parameters and combine the following complementary techniques to experimentally assess damage accumulation rates: positron annihilation lifetime spectropscopy, positron Doppler broadening, Rutherford backscatter channeling, and XRD. Read full project description

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Predicting coating failure: Understanding failure precursors in pristine coatings

Project Lead: Bilge Yildiz
Co-Investigators: Martin Bazant, Ju Li, Michael Short
Students: Max Carlson, Surya Effendy, William Zhou

Project Description: Corrosion, defined as the reaction of metal with environmental oxygen, is associated with a global economic cost of $2.5 trillion per year. Anti-corrosion paint formulations represent a popular anti-corrosion measure due to their low cost and ease of application. These formulations, consisting of polymer and inorganic colloids, are applied to metal surfaces and allowed to dry. Polymer colloids deform and inter-diffuse during drying to form a coherent physical barrier against water. Water-based anti-corrosion coatings release far fewer polluting volatile organic compounds (VOCs) compared to solvent-based coatings, resulting in the rise in popularity of water-based processing in recent years. However, water-based coatings are limited by their lower lifetime compared to solvent-based coatings. This project aims to experimentally observe defects in pristine water and solvent-based coatings which eventually lead to coating failure and compare the severity of these defects in water versus solvent-based systems. Read full project description

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1D Dispersoid Reinforced Metals

Project Lead: Ju Li
Co-Investigators: Michael Short
Postdocs: Kangpyo So
Students: Mohammad Shahin
UROPs: Myles Stapelberg

Project Description: Originally Kangpyo's idea, we are reinforcing structural metals and alloys with 1D dispersoids, such as carbon nanotubes (CNTs). These have been shown to confer exceptional radiation damage resistance, while in some cases simultaneously improving strength, ductility, and toughness. We work on both the fundamental science of how the dispersoids change mechanical properties and radiation resistance, as well as the kg-scale manufacture of these metal-dispersoid composite materials.

Our Sponsors:

MIT-SUTD International Design Centre (IDC)
Dept. of Nuclear Science & Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology