The Comparison of Microstructure and Nanocluster Evolution in Proton and Neutron Irradiated Fe–9%Cr ODS Steel to 3 DPA at 500 °C

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A model Fe-9%Cr oxide dispersion strengthened (ODS) steel was irradiated with protons or neutrons to a dose of 3 displacements per atom (dpa) at a temperature of 500 °C, enabling a direct comparison of ion to neutron irradiation effects at otherwise fixed irradiation conditions. The irradiated microstructures were characterized using transmission electron microscopy and atom probe tomography including cluster analysis. Both proton and neutron irradiations produced a comparable void and dislocation loop microstructure. However, the irradiation response of the Tie-Ye-O oxide nanoclusters varied. Oxides remained stable under proton irradiation, but exhibited dissolution and an increase in Y:Ti composition ratio under neutron irradiation. Both proton and neutron irradiation also induced varying extents of Si, Ni, and Mn clustering at existing oxide nanoclusters. Protons are able to reproduce the void and loop microstructure of neutron irradiation carried out to the same dose and temperature. However, since nanocluster evolution is controlled by both diffusion and ballistic impacts, protons are rendered unable to reproduce the nanocluster evolution of neutron irradiation at the same dose and temperature.