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Sample Preparation Techniques for Grain Boundary Characterization of Annealed TRISO-Coated Particles

M. L. Dunzik-Gougar, I. J. van Rooyen, C. M. Hill, T. Trowbridge, J. Madden, J. Burns

Nuclear Technology / Volume 196 / Number 1 / October 2016 / Pages 111-120

Technical Paper / dx.doi.org/10.13182/NT15-129

First Online Publication:August 25, 2016
Updated:September 30, 2016

Crystallographic information about layers of silicon carbide (SiC) deposited by chemical vapor deposition is essential to understanding layer performance, especially when the the layers are in nonplanar geometries (e.g., spherical). Electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) was used to analyze spherical SiC layers using a different sampling approach that applied focused ion beam (FIB) milling to avoid the negative impacts of traditional sample polishing and address the need for very small samples of irradiated materials for analysis. The mechanical and chemical grinding and polishing of sample surfaces can introduce lattice strain and result in the unequal removal of SiC and the surrounding layers of different materials due to the hardness differences among these materials. The nature of layer interfaces is thought to play a key role in the performance of SiC; therefore, the analysis of representative samples at these interfacial areas is crucial. In the work reported herein, a FIB was employed in a novel manner to prepare a more representative sample for EBSD analysis from tristructural-isotropic layers that are free of effects introduced by mechanical and chemical preparation methods. In addition, the difficulty of handling neutron-irradiated microscopic samples (such as those analyzed in this work) has been simplified using pretilted mounting stages. The results showed that while the average grain sizes of samples may be similar, the grain boundary characteristics can differ significantly. Furthermore, low-angle grain boundaries comprised 25% of all boundaries in the FIB-prepared sample compared to only 1% to 2% in the polished sample from the same particle. This study demonstrated that the characterization results from FIB-prepared samples provide more repeatable results due to the elimination of the effects of sample preparation.

 
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