Zhengcao Li


3 X-Ray Diffraction and Precision Dilatometer Study of Neutron-Irradiated Nuclear Graphite Recovery Process up to 1673K

Authors: Yuhao Jin, Zhou Zhou, Katsumi Yoshida, Zhengcao Li, Tadashi Maruyama, Toyohiko Yano


Four kinds of nuclear graphite, IG-110U, ETP-10, CX-2002U and IG-430U were neutron-irradiated at different fluences and temperatures, ranged from 1.38 x 1024 to 7.4 x 1025 n/m2 (E > 1.0 MeV) at 473K, 573K and 673K. To take into account the disorder in the microstructure, such as stacking faults and anisotropic coherent lengths, the X-ray diffraction patterns were interpreted using a comprehensive structural model and a refinement program CARBONXS. The deduced structural parameters show the changes of lattice parameters, coherent lengths along the c-axis and the basal plane, and the degree of turbostratic disorder as a function of the irradiation dose. Our results reveal neutron irradiation effects on the microstructure and macroscopic dimension, which are consistent with previous work. The methodology used in this work enables the quantification of the damage on the microstructure of nuclear graphite induced by neutron irradiation.

Keywords: Neutron Irradiation, thermal annealing, nuclear graphite, recovery behavior, dimensional change, CARBONX, XRD analysis

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2 Approaches for Minimizing Radioactive Tritium and ¹⁴C in Advanced High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactors

Authors: Longkui Zhu, Zhengcao Li


High temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGRs) are considered as one of the next-generation advanced nuclear reactors, in which porous nuclear graphite is used as neutron moderators, reflectors, structure materials, and cooled by inert helium. Radioactive tritium and ¹⁴C are generated in terms of reactions of thermal neutrons and ⁶Li, ¹⁴N, ¹⁰B impurely within nuclear graphite and the coolant during HTGRs operation. Currently, hydrogen and nitrogen diffusion behavior together with nuclear graphite microstructure evolution were investigated to minimize the radioactive waste release, using thermogravimetric analysis, X-ray computed tomography, the BET and mercury standard porosimetry methods. It is found that the peak value of graphite weight loss emerged at 573-673 K owing to nitrogen diffusion from graphite pores to outside when the system was subjected to vacuum. Macropore volume became larger while porosity for mesopores was smaller with temperature ranging from ambient temperature to 1073 K, which was primarily induced by coalescence of the subscale pores. It is suggested that the porous nuclear graphite should be first subjected to vacuum at 573-673 K to minimize the nitrogen and the radioactive 14°C before operation in HTGRs. Then, results on hydrogen diffusion show that the diffusible hydrogen and tritium could permeate into the coolant with diffusion coefficients of > 0.5 × 10⁻⁴ cm²·s⁻¹ at 50 bar. As a consequence, the freshly-generated diffusible tritium could release quickly to outside once formed, and an effective approach for minimizing the amount of radioactive tritium is to make the impurity contents extremely low in nuclear graphite and the coolant. Besides, both two- and three-dimensional observations indicate that macro and mesopore volume along with total porosity decreased with temperature at 50 bar on account of synergistic effects of applied compression strain, sharpened pore morphology, and non-uniform temperature distribution.

Keywords: Radioactive Waste Management, advanced high temperature gas-cooled reactor, hydrogen and nitrogen diffusion, microstructure evolution, nuclear graphite

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1 Optimizing the Field Emission Performance of SiNWs-Based Heterostructures: Controllable Synthesis, Core-Shell Structure, 3D ZnO/Si Nanotrees and Graphene/SiNWs

Authors: Shasha Lv, Zhengcao Li


Due to the CMOS compatibility, silicon-based field emission (FE) devices as potential electron sources have attracted much attention. The geometrical arrangement and dimensional features of aligned silicon nanowires (SiNWs) have a determining influence on the FE properties. We discuss a multistep template replication process of Ag-assisted chemical etching combined with polystyrene (PS) spheres to fabricate highly periodic and well-aligned silicon nanowires, then their diameter, aspect ratio and density were further controlled via dry oxidation and post chemical treatment. The FE properties related to proximity and aspect ratio were systematically studied. A remarkable improvement of FE propertiy was observed with the average nanowires tip interspace increasing from 80 to 820 nm. On the basis of adjusting SiNWs dimensions and morphology, addition of a secondary material whose properties complement the SiNWs could yield a combined characteristic. Three different nanoheterostructures were fabricated to control the FE performance, they are: NiSi/Si core-shell structures, ZnO/Si nanotrees, and Graphene/SiNWs. We successfully fabricated the high-quality NiSi/Si heterostructured nanowires with excellent conformality. First, nickle nanoparticles were deposited onto SiNWs, then rapid thermal annealing process were utilized to form NiSi shell. In addition, we demonstrate a new and simple method for creating 3D nanotree-like ZnO/Si nanocomposites with a spatially branched hierarchical structure. Compared with the as-prepared SiNRs and ZnO NWs, the high-density ZnO NWs on SiNRs have exhibited predominant FE characteristics, and the FE enhancement factors were attributed to band bending effect and geometrical morphology. The FE efficiency from flat sheet structure of graphene is low. We discussed an effective approach towards full control over the diameter of uniform SiNWs to adjust the protrusions of large-scale graphene sheet deposited on SiNWs. The FE performance regarding the uniformity and dimensional control of graphene protrusions supported on SiNWs was systematically clarified. Therefore, the hybrid SiNWs/graphene structures with protrusions provide a promising class of field emission cathodes.

Keywords: Silicon Nanowires, Heterostructures, field emission, controllable synthesis

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