Oxide-dispersion-strengthened steels are the most promising structural materials for next-generation nuclear energy systems because of their excellent resistance to both irradiation damage and high-temperature creep. Although it has been known for a decade that the extraordinary mechanical properties of oxide-dispersion-strengthened steels originate from highly stabilized oxide nanoclusters with a size smaller than 5nm, the structure of these nanoclusters has not been clarified and remains as one of the most important scientific issues in nuclear materials research. Here we report the atomic-scale characterization of the oxide nanoclusters using state-of-the-art Cs-corrected transmission electron microscopy. This study provides compelling evidence that the nanoclusters have a defective NaCl structure with a high lattice coherency with the bcc steel matrix. Plenty of point defects as well as strong structural affinity of nanoclusters with the steel matrix seem to be the most important reasons for the unusual stability of the clusters at high temperatures and in intensive neutron irradiation fields.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- 化学 (全般)