Nuclear radiation tolerance of single crystal aluminum nitride ultrasonic transducer

Brian Reinhard, Bernhard R. Tittmann, Andrew Suprock

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Ultrasonic technologies offer the potential for high accuracy and resolution in-pile measurement of a range of parameters, including geometry changes, temperature, crack initiation and growth, gas pressure and composition, and microstructural changes. Many Department of Energy-Office of Nuclear Energy (DOE-NE) programs are exploring the use of ultrasonic technologies to provide enhanced sensors for in-pile instrumentation during irradiation testing. For example, the ability of small diameter ultrasonic thermometers (UTs) to provide a temperature profile in candidate metallic and oxide fuel would provide much needed data for validating new fuel performance models, (Rempe et al., 2011; Kazys et al., 2005). These efforts are limited by the lack of identified ultrasonic transducer materials capable of long term performance under irradiation test conditions. To address this need, the Pennsylvania State University (PSU) was awarded an Advanced Test Reactor National Scientific User Facility (ATR NSUF) project to evaluate the performance of promising magnetostrictive and piezoelectric transducers in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Research Reactor (MITR) up to a fast fluence of at least 1021 n/cm2. The irradiation is also supported by a multi-National Laboratory collaboration funded by the Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies Advanced Sensors and Instrumentation (NEET ASI) program. The results from this irradiation, which started in February 2014, offer the potential to enable the development of novel radiation tolerant ultrasonic sensors for use in Material Testing Reactors (MTRs). As such, this test is an instrumented lead test and real-time transducer performance data is collected along with temperature and neutron and gamma flux data. Hence, results from this irradiation offer the potential to bridge the gap between proven out-of-pile ultrasonic techniques and in-pile deployment of ultrasonic sensors by acquiring the data necessary to demonstrate the performance of ultrasonic transducers. To date, very encouraging results have been attained as several transducers have continued to operate under irradiation. The irradiation is ongoing and will continue to approximately mid-2015.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)609-613
Number of pages5
JournalPhysics Procedia
StatePublished - 2015
EventICU International Congress on Ultrasonics, ICU 2015 - Metz, France
Duration: May 11 2015May 14 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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