Publications / Journal Article

Mechanical properties of metal dihydrides

Schultz, Peter A.; Snow, Clark S.

First-principles calculations are used to characterize the bulk elastic properties of cubic and tetragonal phase metal dihydrides, MH2 {M = Sc, Y, Ti, Zr, Hf, lanthanides} to gain insight into the mechanical properties that govern the aging behavior of rare-earth di-tritides as the constituent 3H, tritium, decays into 3He. As tritium decays, helium is inserted in the lattice, the helium migrates and collects into bubbles, that then can ultimately create sufficient internal pressure to rupture the material. The elastic properties of the materials are needed to construct effective mesoscale models of the process of bubble growth and fracture. Dihydrides of the scandium column and most of the rareearths crystalize into a cubic phase, while dihydrides from the next column, Ti, Zr, and Hf, distort instead into the tetragonal phase, indicating incipient instabilities in the phase and potentially significant changes in elastic properties. We report the computed elastic properties of these dihydrides, and also investigate the off-stoichiometric phases as He or vacancies accumulate. As helium builds up in the cubic phase, the shear moduli greatly soften, converting to the tetragonal phase. Conversely, the tetragonal phases convert very quickly to cubic with the removal of H from the lattice, while the cubic phases show little change with removal of H. The source and magnitude of the numerical and physical uncertainties in the modeling are analyzed and quantified to establish the level of confidence that can be placed in the computational results, and this quantified confidence is used to justify using the results to augment and even supplant experimental measurements.