PhD Studentship Inert gas behaviour in nuclear fuels

Phil Edmondson, Chris Grovenor

Nuclear energy is likely to grow worldwide as fossil fuel stocks continue to reduce and as their use becomes less environmentally desirable. The majority of current nuclear fission reactors, and some Generation IV designs, burn uranium dioxide fuel. At present, the use of this nuclear fuel type is very inefficient due to the accumulation of fission products. One important form of fission product is the inert gases Kr and Xe which cause the fuel to undergo significant swelling: a limiting factor in fuel performance. To allow nuclear power plants to burn the fuel more efficiently it is necessary to understand at an atomistic level the mechanisms of inert gas bubble formation and behaviour.

This experimental based project is based around the use of non-radioactive surrogates and ion implantation as a proxy for neutron irradiation to examine the inert gas behaviour under simulated reactor conditions. The materials will be characterised using advanced microscopy techniques including transmission electron microscopy and atom probe tomography. In addition to working in Oxford it is anticipated that there will be opportunities to work with project partners at the National Nuclear Laboratory (UK) and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.

Candidates are considered in the January 2014 admissions cycle which has an application deadline of 24 January 2014. Due to funding restrictions this 3.5 year studentship will provide full fees and maintenance for a citizen of the UK or a citizen of the EU who has spent the previous three years (or more) in the UK undertaking undergraduate study (the stipend is expected to be £13,726 per year).

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Any questions concerning the project can be addressed to Dr Phil Edmondson ( General enquiries on how to apply can be made by e mail to You must complete the standard Oxford University Application for Graduate Studies and further information and an electronic copy of the application form can be found by clicking the Apply link below.

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