PI Dr. Kumar Sridharan and Associate Scientist Dr. Hwasung Yeom have been awarded an $800,000 Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP) grant to research new materials for control rod assemblies. Materials systems for both control rod sheaths and neutron absorbers will be investigated. The group’s expertise in surface coating technologies will be used to develop protective coatings on various alloys used for control rod sheaths. Novel neutron absorbing materials including rare-earth oxides will be fabricated using the group’s new spark plasma sintering (SPS) machine. Experimental work will be combined with neutronics analysis and thermo-mechanical modeling to develop control rod materials systems with improved accident tolerance and performance for use with high burnup fuels.