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Understanding irradiation damage in high-temperature superconductors for fusion reactors using high resolution X-ray absorption spectroscopy

DOI: 10.1038/s43246-022-00272-0 DOI Help

Authors: Rebecca J. Nicholls (University of Oxford) , Sofia Diaz-Moreno (Diamond Light Source) , William Iliffe (University of Oxford) , Yatir Linden (University of Oxford) , Tayebeh Mousavi (University of Oxford) , Matteo Aramini (Diamond Light Source) , Mohsen Danaie (Diamond Light Source) , Chris R. M. Grovenor (University of Oxford) , Susannah C. Speller (University of Oxford)
Co-authored by industrial partner: No

Type: Journal Paper
Journal: Communications Materials , VOL 3

State: Published (Approved)
Published: August 2022
Diamond Proposal Number(s): 23408 , 27236 , 28846 , 28480

Open Access Open Access

Abstract: Understanding the effects of fast neutrons on high-temperature superconductors is of growing importance as new compact fusion reactors rely on these materials to generate the high magnetic fields needed to confine the plasma. The critical temperature of the most promising candidate material for small-scale fusion devices, rare-earth barium cuprate, is known to decrease monotonically with radiation dose, indicating the generation of lattice defects everywhere in the material. Here, we use high-energy-resolution X-ray absorption spectroscopy to probe how the local environment around the copper atoms is influenced by point defects induced by He+ ion irradiation in the oxygen sublattice. Density functional theory calculations are used to interpret spectral features and we find clear evidence that ion irradiation significantly disrupts the bonding environment around the copper atoms in the copper-oxygen planes responsible for superconductivity in this compound. We propose the generation of a specific Frenkel defect that is consistent with our experimental results. Our results challenge previous assumptions in the literature that irradiation produces point defects only in the chain sites. In addition, we show that partial recovery is possible by annealing at modest temperatures, which may have implications for the operation of superconducting fusion magnets.

Diamond Keywords: Nuclear Fusion Reactors

Subject Areas: Materials, Physics, Energy

Diamond Offline Facilities: Electron Physical Sciences Imaging Centre (ePSIC)
Instruments: E02-JEM ARM 300CF , I20-Scanning-X-ray spectroscopy (XAS/XES)

Added On: 11/08/2022 09:19


Discipline Tags:

High energy & particle physics Superconductors Quantum Materials Energy Physics Materials Science

Technical Tags:

Microscopy Spectroscopy Electron Microscopy (EM) X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy (XAS) High Energy Resolution Fluorescence Detected XAS (HERFD-XAS) Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy (STEM)