Iron phosphate glasses: structure determination and radiation tolerance
journal contributionposted on 30.10.2015, 12:00 authored by Kenny JolleyKenny Jolley, Roger SmithRoger Smith
Iron phosphate glass (IPG) has gained recent interest for use in encapsulating radioactive waste for long term storage. In this work, we investigate 5 different compositions of iron phosphate glass. We consider amorphous structures of 3 known crystalline phases: Fe2+View the MathML source(P2O7)2, View the MathML source(P2O7)3 and Fe3+(PO3)3, and structures of IPG (40 mol% Fe2O3 and 60 mol% P2O5), with 4% and 17% Fe2+ ion concentrations. Using constant volume molecular dynamics (MD), we quench a set of structures for each glass composition, to find the optimal density structure. We found that the lowest energy structures of IPG with 4% and 17% concentration of Fe2+, have a density of 3.25 and 3.28 g/cm3 respectively. This is slightly higher than the experimentally measured values of 2.9 and 2.95 g/cm3 respectively. We also estimate an upper and lower bound on the melting temperatures of each glass, then for each glass, we simulate radiation damage cascades at 4 keV. The cascade structures can be in the form of either a concentrated thermal spike or more diffuse with sub-cascade branching. We found that the glass compositions with a higher Fe/P atomic ratio, contained a greater number of displacements after the cascade. We also found that the IPG with 4% Fe2+, contained slightly fewer displacements than the IPG with 17% Fe2+. This is consistent with our previous work, which showed that the threshold displacement energies are lower for glasses with a lower Fe2+ content. In all the simulations, many PO4 polyhedra are destroyed during the early stages of irradiation, but recover strongly over a time scale of picoseconds, leaving very few over or under co-ordinated P atoms at the end of the ballistic phase. This is in contrast to recent work in apatite. The strong recovery indicates that phosphate glasses with a low Fe2+ content could be good materials for waste encapsulation.
The work was funded as part of a joint UK-India Nuclear Collaboration through EPSRC Grant No. EP/K007882/1.
- Mathematical Sciences