Softening due to Grain Boundary Cavity Formation and its Competition with Hardening in Helium Implanted Nanocrystalline Tungsten

Cunningham W. S. , Gentile J. M. , El-Atwani O., Taylor C. N. , EFE M., Maloy S. A. , ...More

SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, vol.8, 2018 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 8
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Doi Number: 10.1038/s41598-018-20990-1
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded, Scopus


The unique ability of grain boundaries to act as effective sinks for radiation damage plays a significant role in nanocrystalline materials due to their large interfacial area per unit volume. Leveraging this mechanism in the design of tungsten as a plasma-facing material provides a potential pathway for enhancing its radiation tolerance under fusion-relevant conditions. In this study, we explore the impact of defect microstructures on the mechanical behavior of helium ion implanted nanocrystalline tungsten through nanoindentation. Softening was apparent across all implantation temperatures and attributed to bubble/cavity loaded grain boundaries suppressing the activation barrier for the onset of plasticity via grain boundary mediated dislocation nucleation. An increase in fluence placed cavity induced grain boundary softening in competition with hardening from intragranular defect loop damage, thus signaling a new transition in the mechanical behavior of helium implanted nanocrystalline tungsten.