Interaction between U/UO2 bilayers and hydrogen studied by in-situ X-ray diffraction

J. E. Darnbrough*, R. M. Harker, I. Griffiths, D. Wermeille, G. H. Lander, R. Springell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
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This paper reports experiments investigating the reaction of H2 with uranium metal-oxide bilayers. The bilayers consist of ≤ 100 nm of epitaxial α-U (grown on a Nb buffer deposited on sapphire) with a UO2 overlayer of thicknesses of between 20 and 80 nm. The oxides were made either by depositing via reactive magnetron sputtering, or allowing the uranium metal to oxidise in air at room temperature. The bilayers were exposed to hydrogen, with sample temperatures between 80 and 200 C, and monitored via in-situ x-ray diffraction and complimentary experiments conducted using Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy - Electron Energy Loss Spectroscopy (STEM-EELS). Small partial pressures of H2 caused rapid consumption of the U metal and lead to changes in the intensity and position of the diffraction peaks from both the UO2 overlayers and the U metal. There is an orientational dependence in the rate of U consumption. From changes in the lattice parameter we deduce that hydrogen enters both the oxide and metal layers, contracting the oxide and expanding the metal. The air-grown oxide overlayers appear to hinder the H2-reaction up to a threshold dose, but then on heating from 80 to 140 C the consumption is more rapid than for the as-deposited overlayers. STEM-EELS establishes that the U-hydride layer lies at the oxide-metal interface, and that the initial formation is at defects or grain boundaries, and involves the formation of amorphous and/or nanocrystalline UH3. This explains why no diffraction peaks from UH3 are observed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-19
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Nuclear Materials
Early online date2 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2018


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