Sputter coating and processing of monolithic U-Mo nuclear fuel: Theory, Instrumentation, Application
Since more than one decade large efforts are put worldwide into the development of a high-density nuclear fuel on the basis of metallic U-Mo alloys with Al cladding. Today, improved U-Mo/Al fuel designs have proven to perform reliably in the whole required range of in-pile conditions, and a qualified U-Mo nuclear fuel seems to be only a few steps away. The last remaining challenge is the industrial fuel fabrication according to these improved designs, which requires both the improvement of current processing techniques as well as the development of new ones. The author Dr. Wolfgang Schmid introduces the ongoing research on a U-Mo nuclear fuel and describes current U-Mo/Al fuel designs and fabrication methods. In this context he presents the ion sputter coating technique, which is well-known in microelectronics, as a novel and promising method to improve the current processing of monolithic U-Mo/Al fuel designs significantly. He illustrates the physical mechanisms behind this method, gives detailed information on the construction and operation of a processing setup, demonstrates the application of the method in experiment and analyzes the resulting benefit.