Eric Lang awarded Best Student Paper at national fusion energy meeting
NPRE graduate student Eric Lang’s research to support an international effort examining neutron irradiation impacts on tungsten-based materials gained the Best Student Paper Award at a recent national meeting.
Lang’s work was chosen among over 20 papers submitted for the American Nuclear Society Technology of Fusion Energy (TOFE) Topical Meeting. His work is entitled, “Pre-irradiation comparison of W-based alloys for the PHENIX campaign: microstructure, composition, and mechanical properties.
“Specifically, my research focused on the pre-irradiation microstructure and mechanical properties of materials to establish a baseline understanding of the materials prior to neutron irradiation,” Lang said. “I used various microscopes including the TEM (transmission electron microscope) and SEM (scanning electron microscope) to analyze the microstructures of tungsten-rhenium alloys.
“Additionally, the composition of the materials was analyzed at the Ion-Gas-Neutral Interactions with Surfaces (IGNIS) chamber at Illinois. Finally, baseline mechanical property measurements were performed at (Oak Ridge National Laboratory).”
Lang, who earned a bachelor’s degree in 2015 in engineering physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has been working with NPRE Prof. JP Allain for almost three years on materials design and analysis for fusion energy systems.
“My research focuses on the development and testing of tungsten-based materials for use plasma-facing materials in nuclear fusion reactors,” Lang said. “I develop tungsten alloys via advanced manufacturing techniques and perform subsequent tests related to their thermo-mechanical properties and response to low energy ion irradiation.”
Lang’s goal is to develop materials that have improved toughness and resilience while enhancing their radiation tolerance so that they can best serve as plasma-facing materials.
“Experiments include exposures to high heat and particle fluxes, and bulk and micro-scale mechanical tests,” he said. “Subsequent analysis utilizes electron microscopy to analyze the material microstructure and in-situ diagnostics to analyze changes in surface chemistry during the experiment.”
Fellow NPRE graduate student, Nathan Reid, was among six finalists selected for the Best Paper award at the TOFE meeting. Lang’s award was announced just before organizers announced Allain as the 2018 winner of the ANS Fusion Energy Division Technical Accomplishment Award.