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Characterization of Blistering and Delamination in Depleted Uranium Hohlraums

K. J. M. Blobaum, M. Stadermann, J. E. Fair, N. E. Teslich, M. A. Wall, R. J. Foreman, N. Hein, H. Streckert, A. Nikroo

Fusion Science and Technology / Volume 63 / Number 2 / Pages 232-241

March 2013

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Blistering and delamination are the primary failure mechanisms during the processing of depleted uranium (DU) hohlraums. These hohlraums consist of a sputter-deposited DU layer sandwiched between two sputter-deposited layers of gold; a final thick gold layer is electrodeposited on the exterior. The hohlraum is deposited on a copper-coated aluminum mandrel; the Al and Cu are removed with chemical etching after the gold and DU layers are deposited. After the mandrel is removed, blistering and delamination are observed on the interiors of some hohlraums, particularly at the radius region. It is hypothesized that blisters are caused by pinholes in the copper and gold layers; etchant leaking through these holes reaches the DU layer and causes it to oxidize, resulting in a blister. Depending on the residual stress in the deposited layers, blistering can initiate larger-scale delamination at layer interfaces. Scanning electron microscopy indicates that inhomogeneities in the machined aluminum mandrel are replicated in the sputter-deposited copper layer. Furthermore, the Cu layer exhibits columnar growth with pinholes that likely allow etchant to come in contact with the gold layer. Any inhomogeneities or pinholes in this initial gold layer then become nucleation sites for blistering. Using a focused ion beam system to etch through the gold layer and extract a cross-sectional sample for transmission electron microscopy, amorphous, intermixed layers at the gold/DU interfaces are observed. Nanometer-sized bubbles in the sputtered and electrodeposited gold layers are also present. Characterization of the morphology and composition of the deposited layers is the first step in determining modifications to processing parameters, with the goal of attaining a significant improvement in hohlraum yield.

 
 
 
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