Extensive research on ferritic steels used to manufacture reactor pressure vessels (RPVs) has demonstrated that irradiation-induced damage can be classified as a combination of matrix damage resulting from radiation produced point defect clusters and their radiation enhanced formation of 1–2 nm diameter clusters containing solutes such as Cu, Mn, Ni and Si. Despite the size of these features, they can have a dramatic and deleterious effect on materials properties. The irradiation-induced features act as barriers to dislocation movement resulting in an increase in hardness which results in embrittlement. Microstructural characterisation, using atom probe tomography, is imperative because it underpins the mechanistic understanding of the damage processes which is essential for predicting materials properties at higher doses or in materials of different composition. The main focus of Dr Hyde's current research is the characterisation of the very early stages of solute clustering. This is an area of increasing interest on two counts, as the mechanisms of cluster formation are poorly understood, while secondly there is new evidence for late blooming phases (LBPs), which is an increasing concern as plant operators are looking to extend plant life beyond the original design life of the RPV. There is a need to ensure methodologies are in place to detect the early stages of LBPs.
In addition, Dr. Hyde is interested in developing improved algorithms for characterising small solute clusters and precipitates.