Ion irradiation experiments are useful for investigating irradiation damage. However, estimating the irradiation hardening of ion-irradiated materials is challenging because of the shallow damage induced region. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to prove usefulness of nanoindentation technique for estimation of irradiation hardening for ion-irradiated materials. SUS316L austenitic stainless steel was used and it was irradiated by 1 MeV H+ ions to a nominal displacement damage of 0.1, 0.3, 1, and 8 dpa at 573 K. The irradiation hardness of the irradiated specimens were measured and analyzed by Nix-Gao model. The indentation size effect was observed in both unirradiated and irradiated specimens. The hardness of the irradiated specimens changed significantly at certain indentation depths. The depth at which the hardness varied indicated that the region deformed by the indenter had reached the boundary between the irradiated and unirradiated regions. The hardness of the irradiated region was proportional to the inverse of the indentation depth in the Nix-Gao plot. The bulk hardness of the irradiated region, H0, estimated by the Nix-Gao plot and Vickers hardness were found to be related to each other, and the relationship could be described by the equation, HV = 0.76H0. Thus, the nanoindentation technique demonstrated in this study is valuable for measuring irradiation hardening in ion-irradiated materials.
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