History

The International Research Center for Nuclear Materials Science of the Institute for Materials Research, Tohoku University was established as the Irradiation Experimental Facilities in June, 1969, for the purpose of “conducting basic research on nuclear fuels and the materials of nuclear reactors, using the Japan Materials Testing Reactor (JMTR) of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA).” At the same time, the Materials Irradiation Engineering Division was set up and, together with the Center, it has engaged in the field of both individual and joint research activities. Prior to this, over the period from 1957 to 1962, the following divisions had been set up: the Rare Metals Division (tentative name: the Nuclear Reactor Fuel Metallurgy Division), the Radiation and Metal Chemistry Division, the Nuclear Reactor Materials Metallography Division, the Nuclear Reactor Materials Processing Division and the Radiation and Metal Physics Division[1]. The Center has developed its research fields in close conjunction with these research divisions specializing in nuclear power-related materials.

Initially, the major subjects of the Center were research on steel for light water reactor pressure vessels and fuel cladding materials, research on the development of materials for nuclear fusion reactors and irradiation behavior, the research and development of silicon carbide fibers, and basic research using the positron annihilation method. In 1980, special research on nuclear fusion was launched and, after the start of the Japan-USA collaborative project Rotating Target Neutron Source-II (RTNS-II) program in 1982, the Center rapidly became more significant as an irradiation research institute for materials for nuclear fusion reactors. The Center played a major role as a key research institute for nuclear fusion reactor materials as well as a domestic post-irradiation experimental center in the FFTF/MOTA program which was the second phase of the Japan-USA collaborative project, and in the Japan-USA Program for Irradiation/Integration Test for Fusion Research-I/II (JUPITER-I/II) which were the third and fourth phases.

In 1985, in addition to the JMTR, the fast test reactor Joyo of the Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corporation (the present day JAEA) became available for heavy irradiation experiments with dozens of displacements per atom that were previously impossible with the JMTR.
In 1989, the Actinides Experiment Building was completed and launched its service as a joint use facility. This technically initiated research on nuclear fuels, which was one of the purposes for the establishment of the Center. More specifically, the staff of the Center and the guest researchers of the joint use facilities started intensive research on new-type hydride nuclear fuels, the treatment and disposal of spent nuclear fuels and the physical properties of actinides.

Management changes caused the reorganization of the divisions specializing in nuclear power-related materials, from the initial six including the Materials Irradiation Engineering Division, into four: the Radiation and Metal Chemistry Research Division; the Nuclear Materials Engineering Research Division; the Nuclear Materials Physical Properties Research Division; and the Materials Irradiation Engineering Research Division[2]. In addition, divisions stationed in the Oarai district were organized into two: the Materials Irradiation Engineering Research Division and the Radiation and Metal Chemistry Research Division. At the same time, divisions in the Sendai district tightened their connection to the Center, which has thus established the current research organization consisting of four divisions.

[1] According to documents including The Fifty Years’ History of the Institute for Materials Research, Tohoku University.
[2] Initially, the Radiation and Metal Physics Research Division was set up for conducting experiments using neutron radiation, and not necessarily for researching nuclear materials.

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