Experimental mechanistic investigation of the nanostructuring of tungsten with low energy helium plasmas

P. Fiflis, N. Connolly, D. N. Ruzic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Helium ion bombardment of tungsten at temperatures between approximately one third and one half of its melting point has shown growth of nanostructures colloquially referred to as “fuzz”. The nanostructures take the form of thin tendrils of diameter about 30 nm and grow out of the bulk material. Tungsten will and does compose one of the key materials for plasma facing components (PFCs) in fusion reactors. The formation of nanostructured fuzz layers on PFCs would be detrimental to the performance of the reactor, and must therefore be avoided. Previous experiments have shown evidence that tungsten fuzz is initially grown by loop punching of helium bubbles created in the bulk. However, once the tendrils grow to sufficient length, the tendrils should intercept the entire helium flux, halting the production of fuzz. Fuzz continues to grow though. To increase the understanding of the mechanisms of tungsten fuzz formation, and thereby aid the avoidance of its production, a series of tests were performed to examine the validity of several theories regarding later stage tungsten fuzz growth. Tests showed that the fuzz formation was dependent solely on the bombardment of helium ions, and not on electric fields, or adatom diffusion. Experiments employing a tungsten coated molybdenum sample indicate the presence of a strong mixing layer and strongly suggest that tungsten fuzz growth continues to occur from the bottom up even as the tendrils grow in size. Tests also show a similarity between different metals exposed to helium ion fluxes where the ratio of bubble diameter to tendril diameter is constant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-209
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nuclear Materials
StatePublished - Dec 15 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Experimental mechanistic investigation of the nanostructuring of tungsten with low energy helium plasmas'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this