Mechanical Property Characterization
- Strength, fracture, fatigue, and hardness measurement: Instron and MTS load frames and nanoindentation instrument for testing strength, fracture, fatigue, creep deformation of materials at –temperatures up to 1,600°C if needed
- Surface roughness using optical surface profilometers (Bruker, Contour GT), Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), Scanning Tunneling Microcopy (STM), Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)
- Contact pitting rig, high-cycle contact fatigue testing for accelerated (1×106 cycles per hour) contact fatigue testing of metal samples under controlled lubricated contact conditions.
- Residual stress/strain and adhesion of cladding and coatings: using scratch tester (Quad Group, Romulus) for measuring the adhesion energy of the coatings and cladding materials deposited on a substrate; adhesion properties can be related to the residual stresses/strains in coatings and cladding and tribological properties
- Tribology friction, wear, and scuffing performance using a full complement of test rigs used for evaluating friction, wear, scuffing, etc., in various contact conditions under controlled environmental
Thermal Property Characterization
Extensive test capabilities available to perform thermal property evaluations from ambient to elevated temperatures. These include calorimeters, dilatometer, thermal diffusivity, thermogravimetric, and thermoelectric property measurements. Equipment includes:
- Differential scanning calorimeter: TA Instruments, Q20
- Thermogravimetric calorimeter: TA Instruments, Q600
- Thermal diffusivity system with Xenon Flash: TA Instruments, DXF 900 including environmental control
- Furnaces: A variety of furnaces available to heat treat and stress relief fabricated parts
Test methods have been developed to measure the kinetics of active and active-to-passive corrosion, characterize and model evolving electrical properties of surface layers, characterize and model localized corrosion at phase boundaries and grain boundaries, pitting, and crevice corrosion under controlled environmental conditions with the objective of modeling long-term material corrosion behavior. Electrochemical tests are conducted in a microcell using microelectrodes to track changes in the corroding electrode surface using SEM and AFM, highlight effects of specific features of the electrode, and enhance the sensitivity of solution analyses. Tests have been conducted to completely characterize the corrosion behaviors of single and multiphase alloys and alloy/ceramic composites in support of long-term performance modeling, including various stainless steel- and Zircaloy-based materials for nuclear applications.
Capabilities to Conduct Corrosion Tests and Analysis on Materials in a Variety of In-Service Environments
- Potentiostats: PARSTAT 4000 and EZSTATPRO; VersaSTAT potentiostats with electrochemical impedance spectrocopy
- Environment chambers
- Electrochemical cells: Available to conduct corrosion investigations of alloys in static and dynamic (i.e., flowing fluid) environments
- Fabrication of microelectrodes
Irradiation Damage Studies
Argonne’s Van de Graaff accelerator is capable of producing 3 MeV electron beam up to 100 µA (500 µA can be achieved with minor upgrade) average current in pulsed or continuous mode. In pulsed mode accelerator can produce 5, 10, 25, 50, 100 ns, or 0.25-5 µs continuously variable pulsed up to 5 kH repetition rate (compatible with duty cycle of the cathode). The Van de Graaff accelerator has been used to determine radiation effects on equipment and materials for many years. Using a tungsten converter equipment of interest can be exposed to a 9,000 R/h gamma field. The Van de Graaff accelerator is also used as a direct electron beam source. High-energy beta radiation doses above 160 Mrad per hour are used regularly for radiochemistry and material studies.
Sample Preparation and Metallographic Analysis
Argonne offers a full complement of equipment used to prepare samples for metallographic analysis, including:
- Cutting (Struers Lobotom high speed cut off saw and Allied Techcut slow speed cutting saw);
- Mounting (Struers Citopress sample mounting machine); and
- Polishing (Struers Tegrapol auto polisher).
Additional Analytical Tools
Additional analytical tools include:
- Transmission Electron Microscopes: The FEI Tecnai F20ST TEM/STEM analytical transmission electron microscope (AEM) has specialized accessories that include an energy-dispersive x-ray spectrometer and a post-column electron filter for both electron energy-loss spectroscopy (EELS) and energy-filtered imaging (EFI). The Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope (STEM) capability enables High Angle annular dark field (HAADF) imaging and X-Ray Energy Dispersive spectroscopy (XEDS)/Electron Energy Loss Spectroscopy (EELS) spectrum imaging.
- Focus Ion Beam Microscopy (FIB): The Zeiss 1540XB FIB-SE accommodates site-specific TEM sample preparation, 3D data acquisition, nanofabrication and manipulation, and other advanced uses. Simultaneous electron and ion scanning offers unique imaging and fabrication opportunities.
- Scanning Electron Microscope: The FEI Quanta 400F high-resolution environmental and variable-pressure SEM, suitable for metallic alloys including magnetic samples. Equipped with Energy Dispersive Analysis (EDX) for chemical analysis.
- High Purity Germanium (HPGe_ gamma spectroscopy systems, Alpha spectroscopy systems, Liquid Scintillation Counting (LSC) and Gas Proportional Counting system: These systems are used for radiation detection and quantification.
- Expertise in method development
Argonne’s Materials Engineering Research Facility (MERF) is structured as a user facility open to outside organizations, including other national laboratories, universities and industry for the process R&D and scale-up of new materials and validation of emerging manufacturing processes. Scale-up R&D involves taking a laboratory-developed material and developing a safe, reliable and economical commercial-scale process.