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Microbeam x-ray absorption spectroscopy study of chromium in large-grain uranium dioxide fuel

Abstract : Synchrotron-based microprobe x-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) has been used to study the local atomic structure of chromium in chromia-doped uranium dioxide (UO2) grains. The specimens investigated were a commercial grade chromia-doped UO2 fresh fuel pellet, and materials from a spent fuel pellet of the same batch, irradiated with an average burnup of ~40 MW d kg-1. Uranium L3-edge and chromium K-edge XAS have been measured, and the structural environments of central uranium and chromium atoms have been elucidated. The Fourier transform of uranium L3-edge extended x-ray absorption fine structure shows two well-defined peaks of U-O and U-U bonds at average distances of 2.36 and 3.83 Å. Their coordination numbers are determined as 8 and 11, respectively. The chromium Fourier transform extended x-ray absorption fine structure of the pristine UO2 matrix shows similar structural features with the corresponding spectrum of the irradiated spent fuel, indicative of analogous chromium environments in the two samples studied. From the chromium XAS experimental data, detectable next neighbor atoms are oxygen and uranium of the cation-substituted UO2 lattice, and two distinct subshells of chromium and oxygen neighbors, possibly because of undissolved chromia particles present in the doped fuels. Curve-fitting analyses using theoretical amplitude and phase-shift functions of the closest Cr-O shell and calculations with ab initio computer code FEFF and atomic clusters generated from the chromium-dissolved UO2 structure have been carried out. There is a prominent reduction in the length of the adjacent Cr-O bond of about 0.3 Å in chromia-doped UO2 compared with the ideal U-O bond length in standard UO2 that would be expected because of the change in effective Coulomb interactions resulting from replacing U4+ with Cr3+ and their ionic size differences. The contraction of shortest Cr-U bond is ~0.1 Å relative to the U-U bond length in bulk UO2. The difference in the local chromium environment between fresh and irradiated UO2 is discussed based on the comparison of quantitative structural information obtained from the two chromia-doped fuel samples analyzed.
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Contributor : Sophie Heurteau <>
Submitted on : Thursday, September 25, 2014 - 10:27:44 AM
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C. Mieszczynski, G. Kuri, J. Bertsch, M. Martin, C. N Borca, et al.. Microbeam x-ray absorption spectroscopy study of chromium in large-grain uranium dioxide fuel. Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter, IOP Publishing, 2014, 26, pp.355009. ⟨10.1088/0953-8984/26/35/355009⟩. ⟨in2p3-01068153⟩



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