Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Heng Ban


Mihai Chirtoc


Multiscaled experimental investigations of heat transfer from nanoscales to macroscales are requisite to progress in energy technologies. In nuclear applications, material properties can undergo significant alteration due to destructive interaction with irradiating particles at microstructural levels that affect bulk properties. Correlating material microstructure to bulk material properties remains a crucial hurdle for obtaining first-principles-based, full-scale material property predictive capability. Ion-irradiated material studies provide valuable insight into material behavior under irradiation conditions that can be correlated to neutron irradiation effects. Through such studies, the need of costly (money and time) studies of neutron interaction with materials can be mitigated significantly. One of the challenges associated with studies of ion-irradiated materials is that the affected layer, or penetration depth, is typically very thin (~0.1-100μm for laboratory accelerators). Few investigations have been reported of ion-irradiation effects on thermal transport properties, in part, due to the challenge associated with measurements at the spatial scales of the zones of interest.

This study expands the current knowledge base regarding thermal transport in ion-irradiated materials through the use of a multiscaled experimental approach using thermal wave methods. In a manner not previously explored, four thermal wave methods are used to characterize the proton-irradiated layer in ZrC including scanning thermal microscopy, spatial-scanning front-detection photothermal radiometry (PTR), lock-in IR thermography (lock-in IRT), and tomographic, frequency-based PTR. For the first time, the in-depth thermal conductivity profile of an ion-irradiated sample is measured directly. The profiles obtained by each of the spatial scanning methods are compared to each other and the numerical prediction of the ion-damage profile. The complementary nature of the various techniques validates the measured profile and the measured degradation of thermal conductivity in the ZrC sample showing the viability of such complementary studies.