Bubble Formation and Lattice Parameter Changes Resulting from He Irradiation of Defect-Fluorite Gd2Zr2O7

Caitlin Taylor, Maulik Patel, Yanwen Zhang, Miguel Crespillo, Juan Wen, Haizhou Xue, Yongqiang Wang, William Weber, Jeffery Aguiar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus Citations


Pyrochlores have long been considered as potential candidates for advanced ceramic waste-forms for the immobilization of radioactive waste nuclides. This work provides evidence that Gd2Zr2O7, often considered the most radiation tolerant pyrochlore, could be susceptible to radiation damage in the form of bubble nucleation at the highest He doses expected over geological time. Ion irradiations were utilized to experimentally simulate the radiation damage and He accumulation produced by ..alpha..-decay. Samples were pre-damaged using 7 MeV Au3+ to induce the pyrochlore to defect-fluorite phase transformation, which would occur due to ..alpha..-recoil damage within several hundred years of storage in a Gd2Zr2O7 waste-form. These samples were then implanted to various He concentrations in order to study the long-term effects of He accumulation. Helium bubbles 1-3 nm in diameter were observed in TEM at a concentration of 4.6 at.% He. Some bubbles remained isolated, while others formed chains 10-30 nm in length parallel to the surface. GIXRD measurements showed lattice swelling after irradiating pristine Gd2Zr2O7 with 7 MeV Au3+ to a fluence of 2.2 x 1015 Au/cm2. An increase in lattice swelling was also measured after 2.2 x 1015 Au/cm2 + 2 x 1015 He/cm2 and 2.2 x 1015 Au/cm2 + 2 x 1016 He/cm2. A decrease in lattice swelling was measured after irradiation with 2.2 x 1015 Au/cm2 + 2 x 1017 He/cm2, the fluence where bubbles and bubble chains were observed in TEM. Bubble chains are thought to form in order to reduce lattice strain normal to the surface, which is produced by the Au and He irradiation damage.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)115-122
Number of pages8
JournalActa Materialia
StatePublished - 2016

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-66684


  • helium bubble
  • lattice swelling
  • nuclear waste
  • pyrochlore
  • radiation damage


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