Nuclear environments, like fusion reactors, outer space, and nuclear fuels, are some of the harshest environments that materials need to withstand. Materials that are subject to high energy radiation undergo changes in their atomic structure, which then evolve into larger microstructural defects, often with detrimental changes to the material properties. Understanding the initial radiation-matter interaction that causes the atomic displacement is crucial to understanding how the material properties will evolve. Our group has recently developed the first code capable of predicting the distribution of radiation damage production in a realistic material.

This taste of research project will leverage the new capability to discover how current state-of-the-art materials (especially nuclear fuels) are being damaged under a radiation environment, and thus help develop new improved materials for space propulsion, nuclear reactors and fusion energy. There is also scope for further development of the code.


Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering

Research Area

Code development | Materials science | Radiation damage | Modelling and simulations | Nuclear materials

We are a tight-knit, inclusive, and enthusiastic group of diverse background. The student will work primarily with Dr. Patrick Burr and HDR candidate Matthew Brand, but will also be expected to interact with the wider Nuclear Engineering research group in the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering.

The project is computational in nature. Some experience in coding is preferred.

Expected outcomes include:

  • Discovery of how radiation damage affect key properties of nuclear materials, in particular fuels for space propulsion.
  • Further development of our nuclear radiation damage codes

The research is anticipated to lead to a publication in a peer-reviewed journal with the student as co-author.

  • Brand, M.I., Obbard, E.G. & Burr, P.A. Spatial distribution of primary radiation damage in microstructures. npj Mater Degrad 7 (2023) 23.
  • Gilbert, M.R., Marian, J., Sublet, J.-Ch. Energy spectra of primary knock-on atoms under neutron irradiation. J. Nucl. Mater 467 (2015) 121-134.
  • Nordlund, K., et al. Primary radiation damage: A review of current understanding and models. J. Nucl. Mater 512 (2018) 450-479.


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