Investigation of ion irradiation hardening behaviors of tempered and long-term thermal aged T92 steel
Journal article, 2018
9Cr ferritic/martensitic steels are promising materials for in-core components in advanced Gen-IV reactors. In these applications, their long-term microstructural stability under thermal exposure and resistance to neutron irradiation are essential. Tempered (unaged) and long-term thermal aged T92 samples were used to evaluate the effects of thermal aging and ion irradiation on the microstructure and micromechanical properties of the steel. Both the tempered and aged samples were irradiated with 3 MeV Fe11+ions to 0.25, 0.50, 1.00 and 5.00 dpa at room temperature. Using the nanoindentation technique, the irradiation hardening behaviors of T92 steel were investigated. The irradiation hardening effect was observed in both the tempered and aged T92 samples. To eliminate the soft substrate effect, the critical indentation depth was determined using the ratio of the average hardness of irradiated and unirradiated samples at the same depth. Under the same irradiation conditions, the macroscopic hardness values of the aged T92 samples after irradiation were lower than those of the tempered samples. The irradiation hardening effect was more significant in the aged T92 due to the decreased dislocation density and the coarsened martensitic lath after long-term thermal aging.