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Lattice location and annealing behaviour of helium atoms implanted in uranium dioxide single crystals

Abstract : Helium behaviour in irradiated uranium dioxide may play an important role in the mechanical stability of nuclear fuels during and after its use in nuclear power plants. Helium migration mechanisms in bulk UO2 have already been the subject of theoretical studies but there is a lack of experimental data relating to the most stable location in the crystal. To this end, we have studied uranium dioxide samples implanted with helium ions at low fluence before and after thermal annealing in the range 600 and 800 °C. UO2 single crystals were implanted with 50 keV−3He ions at the fluence of 1 × 1015 at cm−2 and the location in the lattice of helium atoms was investigated using NRA (Nuclear Reaction Analysis) based on the reaction of 3He with deuterons (3He (d,p) 4He) in a channelling mode, recording angular scans across axes and planes. Furthermore, the uranium sub-lattice was analysed by the classical RBS method. After implantation, the experimental angular scans recorded across the main crystallographic axes and along major planes show that the helium atoms in their large majority occupy octahedral interstitial sites. No modification of the occupied crystallographic site was found after annealing at 600 °C. Conversely, no crystallographic relationship between matrix and helium signals was revealed following annealing at 800 °C. The latter feature is likely related to the clustering of implanted helium atoms into gas-filled bubbles. These experimental results have been quantified and interpreted using Monte Carlo simulations with the McChasy code.
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Contributor : Emilie Bonnardel <>
Submitted on : Monday, September 21, 2015 - 11:17:07 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, January 7, 2021 - 10:54:03 AM




T. Belhabib, P. Desgardin, T. Sauvage, H. Erramli, M.F. Barthe, et al.. Lattice location and annealing behaviour of helium atoms implanted in uranium dioxide single crystals. Journal of Nuclear Materials, Elsevier, 2015, 467 (Part 1), pp.Pages 1-8. ⟨10.1016/j.jnucmat.2015.09.001⟩. ⟨in2p3-01202497⟩



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