Radiation damage effects in zirconia

K. E. Sickafus, Hj Matzke, Th Hartmann, K. Yasuda, J. A. Valdez, P. Chodak, M. Nastasi, R. A. Verrall

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The evolution of radiation-induced damage in fully-stabilized, cubic zirconia (FSZ) (Y, Ca and Er dopants acting as stabilizers) and in pure, unstabilized, monoclinic zirconia, was investigated using Rutherford backscattering spectrometry and ion channeling (RBS/C), along with X-ray diffraction and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). FSZ crystals were irradiated with 340-400 keV Xe++ ions and at temperatures ranging from 170 to 300 K, or with 127I+ ions (72 MeV) at temperatures ranging from 300 to 1170 K. No amorphization of zirconia was found under any irradiation condition, though in the case of 72 MeV I+ ion irradiations, the irradiation-induced defect microstructure was observed to produce dechanneling effects in RBS/C measurements that reach the `random' level. Damage accumulation in Xe-ion irradiation experiments on FSZ crystals was found to progress in three stages: (1) formation of isolated defect clusters; (2) a transition stage in which damage increases rapidly over a small range of ion dose, due to the linking of dislocations and defect clusters; and (3) a `saturation' stage in which damage accumulation is retarded or increases only slowly with ion dose. The FSZ crystal composition does not seem to alter significantly the dose-dependence of these damage stages. Unstabilized, monoclinic ZrO2 was observed to transform to a higher symmetry, tetragonal or cubic phase, upon 340 keV Xe++ ion irradiation to Xe fluences in excess of 5×1018 m-2 (dose equivalent, approximately 2 displacements per atom or dpa) at 120 K. This transformation was accompanied by a densification of the ZrO2 phase by approximately 5%. No amorphization of the pure ZrO2 was observed to a Xe++ ion fluence equivalent to a peak displacement damage level of about 680 dpa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-77
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Nuclear Materials
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2 1999
EventProceedings of the 1998 4th Workshop on Inert Matrix Fuel (IMF) - Villigen, Switz
Duration: Oct 19 1998Oct 20 1998


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering

Cite this

Sickafus, K. E., Matzke, H., Hartmann, T., Yasuda, K., Valdez, J. A., Chodak, P., ... Verrall, R. A. (1999). Radiation damage effects in zirconia. Journal of Nuclear Materials, 274(1), 66-77. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0022-3115(99)00041-0