The accumulation of defects, and in particular He bubbles, can have significant implications for the performance of materials exposed to the plasma in magnetic-confinement nuclear fusion reactors. Some of the most promising candidates for deployment into such environments are nanocrystalline materials as the engineering of grain boundary density offers the possibility of tailoring their radiation resistance properties. In order to investigate the microstructural evolution of ultrafine- and nanocrystalline-grained tungsten under conditions similar to those in a reactor, a transmission electron microscopy study with in situ 2 keV He+ ion irradiation at 950°C has been completed. A dynamic and complex evolution in the microstructure was observed including the formation of defect clusters, dislocations and bubbles. Nanocrystalline grains with dimensions less than around 60 nm demonstrated lower bubble density and greater bubble size than larger nanocrystalline (60"100 nm) and ultrafine (100"500 nm) grains. In grains over 100 nm, uniform distributions of bubbles and defects were formed. At higher fluences, large faceted bubbles were observed on the grain boundaries, especially on those of nanocrystalline grains, indicating the important role grain boundaries can play in trapping He and thus in giving rise to the enhanced radiation tolerance of nanocrystalline materials.
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