The Alemnis Standard Assembly (ASA) can be installed in “hot” chambers which handle radioactive materials and is especially suited to the study of mechanical properties of nuclear materials because of its ability to test extremely small volumes of material. For a given radioactive substance, the intensity of radiation that it produces is directly proportional to the rate of decay of the substance and the amount of the substance. This means that the smaller the sample to be tested, the lower the level of radiation. The ASA can handle very small volumes (e.g. micropillars, beams, particles) which typically fall within the range 20 – 200 µm3. Provided that such samples can be adequately manipulated, they can be handled and tested with much less radiation protection than if they were in larger bulk form.
Track record of breakthrough experiments.
The ASA has already been used for many studies of radioactive materials, as well as proposed replacement candidate materials for existing fission reactors and future fusion reactors. These include materials for reactor cladding, fuel rods (both new and spent), recycled waste, cooling pipes and coatings. Some examples: Zirconium alloys, MAX phases (e.g., Ti2AlC, Ti3SiC2, Ti2AlN, etc.), alumina, SiC, TiO2 and CeO2. The example shows the load-displacement curve for a crush test performed on an alumina particle with a 100 µm diameter diamond flat punch indenter. The advantage of true displacement control is plainly evident after the yield point when the particle suddenly fails and then densifies.wn that only the ASA can accurately record the true load drops associated with sudden deformation excursions.
- Displacement head: piezo actuated displacement head with integrated displacement sensor for closed loop operation. Maximum displacement 40 µm, displacement resolution < 1 nm;
- Load sensor: max. force: 0.5 N, typically 4 µN RMS noise;
- Sample versus indentation tip positioning: Piezoelectric XY+Z micro-positioning system for sample positioning and tip approach (26 mm range in X and Y, 26 mm range in Z), with integrated position sensors for closed loop operation (< 2 nm resolution);
- 5 standard stubs;
- all cables and connectors for in air operation.
For integration in SEM, additional modifications may be required, such as custom flanges, cabling, mounts and connectors. This is typically quoted on a case-by-case basis.