Elemental Characterization of Neutron-Irradiated Tungsten Using the GD-OES Technique

Nathan C. Reid, Lauren M. Garrison, Chase N. Taylor, Jean Paul Allain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In reactor-relevant fusion divertor conditions, tungsten (W) will be used as an armor material due to its excellent thermal properties. It will be exposed to impurities from numerous sources, including ion implantation and mixing, neutron transmutation, low-Z plasma-facing-component (PFC) redeposition and codeposition of deuterium and tritium fuel, and trapped helium bubbles. The impurity plasma material–interaction effects are a concern because they can cause gradual degradation of the material and of plasma performance due to dust formation, fuel retention, and even changes to the thermal and mechanical properties of the W armor. It is crucial to measure the amount of impurities in W, and the glow discharge–optical emission spectroscopy (GD-OES) technique is exceptionally well suited for analysis of irradiated samples. GD-OES can measure a sample’s elemental composition by sputtering the surface of the sample, ionizing the eroded material, and measuring the optical emission of the excited atoms. In order for the GD-OES technique to be applied to neutron-irradiated tungsten samples, a mounting system for miniature samples was designed. The sample mounting and centering procedure was successful in measuring the depth distribution of control W and W alloy sample elemental concentrations. These control depth spectra will be used as elemental references for postirradiated samples. The residence time of surface layers was measured, a comparison of signals from different anodes was completed, and the influence of initial surface roughness or nonuniformity was understood. The depth distribution of an arc-welded W-0.4% rhenium (Re) alloy was measured to have a stable Re signal that was distributed evenly in the W matrix. The methods developed here will allow for quantification of impurities and transmutation amounts in neutron-irradiated W. GD-OES is a powerful tool but requires calibration and careful optimization of the parameters to obtain meaningful results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)510-519
Number of pages10
JournalFusion Science and Technology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 18 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanical Engineering


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