Abstract: J. Phys.: Conf. Series (2010) accepted
U. Birkenheuer, A. Ulbricht, F. Bergner, and A. Gokhman
On the formation of mixed vacancy-copper clusters in neutron-irradiated Fe-Cu alloys
J. Phys.: Conf. Series (2010) accepted
Setting out from the results found in a set of small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) experiments for neutron-irradiated Fe-Cu model alloys, a rate theory model for the simulation of the irradiation-induced time-evolution of Cu-rich precipitates in these model alloys is presented which follows the idea that the precipitate clusters are mixed Cu-vacancy aggregates. This is done by explicitly allowing the defect clusters to absorb vacancies. The resulting Vacancy-Coupled Copper Clustering (V3C) model is calibrated by SANS experiments on two different Fe-Cu model alloys neutron-irradiated at four different doses. Quantitative agreement with the SANS experiments could be achieved by introducing a dependence of the Fe-Cu interface energy on the amount of vacancies in the mixed precipitate clusters. Phenomeno¬logically, this energy can be seen as a function of the weight-percentage of Cu in the iron matrix. An empirical expression for this dependence is suggested. In addition, the new V3C model is used to gain some preliminary insight into the time-evolution of the chemical composition of the mixed Cu-vacancy clusters, confirming qualitatively the experimental findings. The relation of our ansatz to the heterogeneous Cu-precipitation mechanism proposed by others for neutron-irradiated Fe-Cu alloys of low Cu content is discussed.