Modeling nickel fractures and next-generation reactors

By Eleanor TaylorJune 1, 2010

Two videos show the different ways in which interlaced nanoscopic grains of nickel break apart depending on whether or not certain impurities are present in the sample. 

A multidisciplinary team of physicists, chemists, materials scientists and computer scientists from Argonne, the University of Southern California (USC), Harvard University, Pennsylvania State University, and California State University at Northridge simulated the introduction of small amounts of sulfur into the boundaries between the nickel grains to investigate a material property known as “embrittlement.”  Seeing how different configurations of nickel function at these exceptionally small scales helps researchers understand the basic chemistry that will expedite the development of next-generation nuclear reactors.

The study was published in Physical Review Letters in April 2010.