Boronization has been used in the National Spherical Torus-Upgrade (NSTX-U) as first wall conditioning technique. The technique decreased the oxygen impurities in the plasma and the O% on the Plasma Facing Components (PFC) as measured with an in-vacuo probe. Samples were extracted from tiles removed from the tokamak for post-mortem and controlled studies. Ex-vessel low energy and fluence D2+ and Ar+ irradiations were characterized in-situ to elucidate surface evolution of a cored graphite sample with an intrinsic concentration of boron from a tokamak environment. In addition, quadrupole mass spectrometer measurements of emitted D-containing species during irradiation, indicate potential retention of D by the boronized graphite interface and correlated back to the surface chemistry evolution. Classical Molecular Dynamics (CMD) simulations were used to investigate the chemistry of the B-C-O-D system. The results suggest that boron coatings retain oxygen by forming oxidized boron states in the presence of deuterium plasmas and corroborate empirical findings. A four times increase in the O% of the boron coatings was observed following in-situ deuterium exposures, in contrast with a reduction of equal magnitude observed after Ar irradiations. These results illustrate the complex chemistry driven by energetic ions at the edge of tokamaks plasmas on the PFCs.
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