3D rendering of segmented dense grain regions and intergranular pores in nuclear graphite IG-110
Energy Materials

Nuclear Power

A Zero Emission Clean Energy Source

Nuclear power is the second largest source of low-carbon electricity globally. And to tackle the threat of climate change, continued research and development into nuclear technology is crucial. This will help ensure nations reach net-zero carbon emission by 2050.

Nuclear power is a zero-emission clean energy source ideally suited to complement other green energy technologies such as solar and wind. And with new advancements in efficiency and safety, it remains a viable option for a greener future.  

Materials characterization is essential

When it comes to nuclear power generation, optimizing the performance of certain materials is a must. For example, graphite is used in reactor cores - it moderates the reaction and can shut it down when necessary. And the microstructure of graphite is what gives the material the properties and performance necessary to perform this important function. Characteristics such as tortuosity, pore shape and anisotropy, and connectivity can drastically influence the material’s behavior.

But one of the challenges is that this microstructure is hard to characterize. The material is highly multiscale and heterogeneous, consisting of repeating domains with different microstructural features. The porosity, hardness, and composition of nuclear graphite also presents a problem, as it makes FIB preparation difficult and slow.

Advanced microscopy tools can help

ZEISS offers several solutions that can help improve the characterization of nuclear materials - paving the way for a greener future. The LaserFIB, a ZEISS FIB-SEM combined with a laser, allows scientists to perform fast, high-throughput sample prep for high-resolution imaging. Correlative analysis with X-ray microscopy is also possible. 

Your Next Step

Find out more about ZEISS’ analysis tools for nuclear materials. 

Application Images

  • Micropillar of nuclear grade graphite IG-110 prepared for nanoscale X-ray microscopy in Xradia Ultra using laser ablation in the LaserFIB. Total milling time 13 minutes.

    Micropillar of nuclear grade graphite IG-110 prepared for nanoscale X-ray microscopy in Xradia Ultra using laser ablation in the LaserFIB. Total milling time 13 minutes.

  • 3D rendering of segmented dense grain regions and intergranular pores in nuclear graphite IG-110 imaged with Xradia Versa X-ray microscope. The intergranular pore network is shown in the ball and stick model at right where the balls represent the pore size and the sticks represent the connections between the pores.

    3D rendering of segmented dense grain regions and intergranular pores in nuclear graphite IG-110 imaged with Xradia Versa X-ray microscope. The intergranular pore network is shown in the ball and stick model at right where the balls represent the pore size and the sticks represent the connections between the pores.

  • Laser-prepared surface of alloy 600 sheet with overlaid EBSD map obtained on the laser-cut surface. Sample prepared and imaged in Crossbeam LaserFIB.

    Laser-prepared surface of alloy 600 sheet with overlaid EBSD map obtained on the laser-cut surface. Sample prepared and imaged in Crossbeam LaserFIB.

  • X-ray microscopy virtual slice images of a surrogate TRISO fuel particle during in situ compression in Xradia Versa with Deben CT-5kN in situ load cell. (Left) particle cracks initiate at top and bottom of the particle. (Right) brittle failure of the coating layers occurs.

    X-ray microscopy virtual slice images of a surrogate TRISO fuel particle during in situ compression in Xradia Versa with Deben CT-5kN in situ load cell. (Left) particle cracks initiate at top and bottom of the particle. (Right) brittle failure of the coating layers occurs.


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