In order to simulate radiation damages in tungsten, potential plasma facing materials in future fusion reactors, surrogate approach of heavy ion irradiation on polycrystalline tungsten is employed. Tungsten specimen is irradiated with gold heavy ions of energy 120 MeV at different fluences. Positron annihilation lifetime measurements are carried out on pristine and ion beam irradiated tungsten specimens. The variation in positron annihilation lifetime in ion irradiated specimens confirms evolution of vacancy clusters under heavy ion irradiation.

The pristine and irradiated tungsten specimens have also been characterized for their microstructural, structural, electrical, thermal, and mechanical properties. X-ray diffractograms of irradiated tungsten specimens show structural integrity of polycrystalline tungsten even after irradiation. Nevertheless, the increase in microstrain, electrical resistivity and microhardness on irradiation indicates creation of lattice damages inside polycrystalline tungsten specimen. On the other hand, the thermal diffusivity has not change much on heavy ion irradiation.

The induction of damages in metallic tungsten is mainly attributed to high electronic energy loss, which is 40 keV/nm in present case as obtained from SRIM program. Although, concomitant effect of nuclear losses on damage creation cannot be ignored. It is believed that the energy received by the electronic system is being transferred to the atomic system by electron-phonon coupling. Eventually, elastic nuclear collisions and the transfer of energy from electronic to atomic system via inelastic collision is leading to significant defect generation in tungsten lattice.

This article originally appeared in Journal of Nuclear Materials 467, Part 1, 2015, Pages 406–412.