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Swift Heavy Ion Damage

In actinide-bearing materials, both fission and alpha decay occur; these events produce heavy particles with specific energies upwards of 1 MeV/nucleon. As these particles, known as swift heavy ions (SHIs), propagate through a material, they lose their energy through electronic excitations in the local area surrounding the ion trajectory, forming a “track” of modified material ~5 nm wide and microns in length. These material modifications include amorphization, phase transformations, microstrain, redox reactions, polygonization of surface grains, and gas bubble formation. It is important to understand the relationship between high-energy density deposition and material response in order to determine how actinide-bearing materials will behave under extreme conditions, such as those that occur in nuclear reactors and waste forms.