Nuclear materials modelling & characterisation


Key contact:

Greg Lumpkin, Programme Leader

Phone: +61 2 9717 3242




The focus of the group under the former institute was a combination of experimental and simulation based work, examining the fundamental structure-property relationships of nuclear materials.

Partially oxidised ruthenium layers on silcon substrate
Partially oxidised ruthenium layers on silicon substrate. STEM Z-contrast image (top left) shows bright grains of residual Ru metal. STEM EDS maps show distribution of oxygen (green), silicon (blue) and ruthenium (red) in the same area.


The group examined materials before, during and after radiation damage processes using a range of experimental and atomistic modelling techniques, primarily to provide fundamental information for the development of new materials for advanced energy applications, including nuclear fission and fusion systems and specialist materials for the high technology sector.


The group's work contributed to global research studying radiation damage whilst improving the design of new materials for use within reactor environments, such as reactor core linings and additives to reactor fuel.


The group also provided support for other research programs being undertaken by the former institute and, through AINSE, provided access to the group's facilities to the Australian academic community (see capabilities below).





Partnerships and collaborations


The University of Sydney - technetium-based materials
Curtin University of Technology - simulations of radiation damage
The University of St Andrews, Scotland - disorder in materials
Argonne National Laboratory – ion radiation damage of materials (thin films, nanoparticles, etc.)
The Australian National University – changes in physical properties of bulk materials induced by heavy ion irradiation




The Nuclear Materials Modelling and Characterisation group maintains the following analytical facilities:

Two scanning electron microscopes (SEM) - Jeol 6300 and Zeiss Ultra Plus. The Zeiss Ultra Plus is capable of very high magnifications with quantitative elemental analysis using energy dispersive X-ray dispersive spectroscopy (EDS), coupled with advanced backscattered imaging and electron backscattered diffraction (EBSD) mapping.

Two transmission electron microscopes (TEM) - Jeol 2010F and 2200FS. Both TEMs are capable of high magnification, phase contrast imaging, energy filtering, and electron energy loss spectroscopy.


Microporous materials collected using the zeiss ultra plus fegsem
High-resolution images of microporous materials collected using the Zeiss Ultra Plus FEGSEM

Three X-ray diffractometers (XRD) - Panalytical Xpert Pro and two Bruker D8s. The Panalytical Xpert Pro has multiple sample stages, including variable temperature and multiple sample changing capabilities.


The Bruker D8s are capable of running with parallel X-ray beams studying thin films, with an additional stage capable of running to high temperature.


The analytical equipment available within the group can probe structure down to one Angstrom resolution (TEM), provide chemical compositions (SEM and TEM), and crystal structure information (SEM, TEM, and XRD). The samples can be studied at various temperatures above and below room temperature, using TEM and XRD equipment.


Crystallographic orientation and compositional variations of materials on the surface can also be studied by EBSD and EDS using the Zeiss Ultra Plus FEGSEM.


In addition to the above facilities, we conduct atomistic simulations of materials using molecular dynamics (MD) and ab initio methods, e.g., density functional theory (DFT).