Reactor Materials Testing Laboratory

Forging the way for nuclear materials research.


What we do…

Since its establishment in 2002 the Queen’s Nuclear Materials group has grown to its current composition of 6 faculty, and more than 25 students and postdocs.  Led by Professor Mark Daymond who took over as Senior IRC in 2012, the Reactor Materials Testing Laboratory (RMTL) is a state-of-the-art, one-story facility that was officially opened in 2015.  The facility includes a proton and helium accelerator to introduce radiation damage and transmutation products into materials, mimicking the changes to materials occurring in a nuclear reactor.  In addition, the facility is equipped with a suite of equipment for testing mechanical and corrosion properties, as well as a range of characterisation equipment, including in situ capabilities.

With the current push to reduce our collective carbon footprint, nuclear power is transforming into the energy of choice for the world. Furthermore, it produces energy at a much lower cost, more effectively and with fewer adverse consequences for the environment than most other energy sources. On a global level, it is clear that nuclear power must contribute a significant proportion of power generation infrastructure over the next 50 years and beyond in order to maintain low carbon emissions.

It is clear that the data collected through studies at the RMTL will help develop strategies to extend the effective lifetime of existing, as well as, new nuclear reactors to support the more environmentally friendly energy path that the global community has chosen to tread.

Exploring nuclear materials safely


All workers at RMTL must undergo basic radiation safety training to enter and use the facilities. Training is given in a graduated scheme ranging from levels 1 to 3, whereby certain areas of the lab are restricted depending on level of training received. At RMTL, the ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable) policy is followed, which ensures exposure to radiation is minimal to workers and to the public. Long pants and closed toed shoes must be worn at all times while at the lab.

What we offer…

He+ and He++ accelerator

The main focus of research at RMTL, the accelerator uses a 4MV tandem producing up to 8MeV H or 12MeV He to simulate irradiation damage and facilitate implantation studies.

Electron microscopy suite(SEM)

The latest microscopy technology, FEI FEG-Nova NanoSem, is used to generate images of surface topography and determine chemical composition at very high resolutions. Capabilities include EBSD, EDX, and in situ heating and straining. Samples must be free of dust and electrically conductive, but may be any geometry or shape.

Electron microscopy suite(TEM)

Passes electrons through a thin sample to examine fine details at extremely high resolutions (down to an atomic scale). TEM samples must be prepared down to less than 100 nanometers thick. The FEI Osiris FEG-TEM includes the following features: STEM, EDS, EELS, and in situ heating & straining.

In situ mechanical testing

In ion-beam quasi-static and creep testing at elevated temperatures.

Elevated temperature nanoindentation

Nano- and micro-indentation from ambient to elevated temperatures.

Gamma spectroscopy and radiation detection

Analysis equipment including Ortec HPGe Gamma Ray Spec; Neutron Spectrometer (with Tony Waker, UOIT).