Modeling the mechanical behavior and deformed microstructure of irradiated BCC materials using continuum crystal plasticity
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The mechanical behavior of structural materials used in nuclear applications is significantly degraded as a result of irradiation, typically characterized by an increase in yield stress, localization of inelastic deformation along narrow dislocation channels, and considerably reduced strains to failure. Further, creep rates are accelerated under irradiation. These changes in mechanical properties can be traced back to the irradiated microstructure which shows the formation of a large number of material defects, e.g., point defect clusters, dislocation loops, and complex dislocation networks. Interaction of dislocations with the irradiation-induced defects governs the mechanical behavior of irradiated metals. However, the mechanical properties are seldom systematically correlated to the underlying irradiated microstructure. Further, the current state of modeling of deformation behavior is mostly phenomenological and typically does not incorporate the effects of microstructure or defect densities. The present research develops a continuum constitutive crystal plasticity framework to model the mechanical behavior and deformed microstructure of bcc ferritic/martensitic steels exposed to irradiation. Physically-based constitutive models for various plasticity-induced dislocation migration processes such as climb and cross-slip are developed. We have also developed models for the interaction of dislocations with the irradiation-induced defects. A rate theory based approach is used to model the evolution of point defects generated due to irradiation, and coupled to the mechanical behavior. A void nucleation and growth based damage framework is also developed to model failure initiation in these irradiated materials. The framework is used to simulate the following major features of inelastic deformation in bcc ferritic/martensitic steels: irradiation hardening, flow localization due to dislocation channel formation, failure initiation at the interfaces of these dislocation channels and grain boundaries, irradiation creep deformation, and temperature-dependent non-Schmid yield behavior. Model results are compared to available experimental data. This framework represents the state-of-the-art in constitutive modeling of the deformation behavior of irradiated materials.