Hinks, J. A., Haigh, S. J., Greaves, Graeme, Sweeney, Francis, Pan, C. T., Young, R. J. and Donnelly, S. E. (2014) Dynamic Microstructural Evolution of Graphite under Displacing Irradiation. Carbon, 68. pp. 273-284. ISSN 0008-6223
Abstract

Graphitic materials and graphite composites experience dimensional change when exposed to
radiation-induced atomic displacements. This has major implications for current and future
technological ranging from nuclear fission reactors to the processing of graphene-silicon
hybrid devices. Dimensional change in nuclear graphites is a complex problem involving the
filler, binder, porosity, cracks and atomic-level effects all interacting within the polygranular
structure. An improved understanding of the atomistic mechanisms which drive dimensional
change within individual graphitic crystals is required to feed into the multiscale modelling of
this system.
In this study, micromechanically exfoliated samples of highly oriented pyrolytic graphite
have been ion irradiated and studied in situ using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) in
order to gain insights into the response of single graphitic crystals to displacing radiation.
Under continuous ion bombardment, a complex dynamic sequence of deformation evolves
featuring several distinct stages from the inducement of strain, the creation of dislocations
leading to dislocation arrays, the formation of kink band networks and localised doming of the sample. Observing these ion irradiation-induced processes using in situ TEM reveals
previously unknown details of the sequence of microstructural developments and physics
driving these phenomena. A mechanistic model consistent with the microstructural changes
observed is presented.

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