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Low Activation Materials Development and Analysis Laboratory (LAMDA)




Marie Williams, operating one of the FEI dual beam instruments in preparing a specimen
for TEM examination.


The Low Activation Materials Development and Analysis (LAMDA) laboratory is a world-class facility containing specialized instruments for the stud of radiation-induced effects on materials properties. Located in the Materials Science and Technology Division, the LAMDA lab consists of several interconnected contamination-zone and clean area suites. Originally created as a facility for plutonium studies and then thermophysical properties of graphite for high temperature gas cooled reactors in the 1960’s, the role of LAMDA has changed with the emphasis placed on so-called “low activation” materials.  Currently, LAMDA is involved in both fundamental and applied research on radiation-induced changes in structural materials, reactor internals, diagnostic materials and sensor components for both current and advanced reactor designs.

The LAMDA facility allows for the examination of low activity radiological samples (< 100 mR/hr at 30 cm) without the need for remote manipulation. The LAMDA laboratory typically utilizes small, compact samples to allow researchers to leverage cutting-edge characterization and test equipment to study materials phenomenon not possible at a hot cell facility. The LAMDA facility is maintained as a low alpha contamination facility (<70 dpm / 100 cm2), but certain equipment is available for fuel related studies in conjunction with the Irradiated Fuels Examination Laboratory.

Brian Eckhart, technician, preparing samples for electropolishing in
one of the contamination

Post irradiation examination capabilities in the LAMDA lab are focused on three main categories: mechanical testing, physical properties and microstructural characterization. A wide range of mechanical test frames capable of up to 10 kN loads with test environments to 1800°C and 10-7 torr vacuum are available, along with impact and microhardness testers. Physical and thermophysical property examinations include densitometers, electrical and thermal conductivity, dilatometry, and differential scanning calorimetry /thermal gravimetric analysis. Hydrogen analysis in clad materials through LECO oxygen/hydrogen analyzer and thermal desorption spectroscopy. A full complement of equipment and instruments are available for metallographic and microstructural analysis of materials is available. This includes X-ray tomography and multiple, specialized, focus ion beam/dual beam instruments for 3D materials studies and the preparation of specimens for transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The LAMDA lab operates a 200kV Schottky JEOL JEM-2100F S/TEM with EDS and Gatan Image Filter.

The LAMDA lab works in conjunction with the Irradiated Materials Examination and Testing (IMET) and Irradiated Fuels Examination Laboratory (IFEL) hot-cell facilities at the laboratory to study materials irradiated at either the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) or other experimental and commercial reactors. The LAMDA, IMET, IFEL and HFIR facilities are all part of the National Science User Facility. LAMDA performs work supported by various Department of Energy (DOE) programs including the Fusion Materials, Light Water Reactor Sustainability, DOE-naval prime contractors, as well as collaborations with other international research facilities, universities and companies. 

The LAMDA lab also is a staging area for materials investigation of irradiated materials in other parts of ORNL including advanced electron microscopy and optical measurement laboratories. Click on one of the links provided to see more information on the instruments and capabilities available.


SCHMIDLIN, Joshua. F.,
Team Lead 865.574.6231  
MELTON, Stephanie G.,
Administrativie Assistant 865.574.9803 865.241.3650