Sonatina NCN M. Gawęda

Dr Magdalena Gawęda

Dr Magdalena Gawęda will lead the NCB SONATINA 7 project Amorphous silicon oxycarbide-based protective coatings on steel for cladding materials in nuclear reactors . The scientific project aims to develop amorphous protective coatings based on silicon oxycarbide (SiOC) to enhance the radiation tolerance and high-temperature stability of structural elements within nuclear reactors. The interest in this material arises from its favourable mechanical properties, strong adhesion to metallic substrates, chemical and thermal stability, and radiation tolerance with resistance to helium bubble formation, all of which result from its unique structure. SiOC is a two-phase material consisting of an amorphous silica-based matrix with oxygen ions partially substituted by carbon, along with a graphite-like disordered free carbon phase. The exact composition, particularly carbon content and ionic modifications, must be precisely controlled to ensure desirable properties.

In this project, she will prepare materials using the so-called polymer-derived ceramics method. This will involve the pyrolysis of self-synthesized ladder-like silsesquioxanes with designed carbon and iron content (as an additional matrix modifier) deposited on AISI 316L austenitic stainless steel. The work will cover comprehensive structural, microstructural, and mechanical analyses of SiOC coatings with varying carbon content and iron ionic modifications. A thorough examination will be conducted both before and after irradiation with light and heavy ion, as well as in-situ at elevated temperatures. The results will yield fundamental research of high scientific significance, directly applicable to the capabilities of the alloy/SiOC composite in resisting the harsh environment of nuclear reactors.