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[en] One of the key materials challenges for Generation IV reactor technology is to improve the strength and resistance to corrosion and radiation damage in the metal cladding of the fuel pins during high-temperature operation. Various candidate Gen IV designs call for increasing core temperature to improve efficiency and facilitate hydrogen production, operation with molten lead moderator to use fast neutrons. Fuel pin lifetime against swelling and fracture is a significant limit in both respects. The goal of this project is to develop a method for fabricating SiC-reinforced high-strength steel. We are developing a metal-matrix composite (MMC) in which SiC fibers are be embedded within a metal matrix of steel, with adequate interfacial bonding to deliver the full benefit of the tensile strength of the SiC fibers in the composite. In the context of the mission of the SBIR program, this Phase I grant has been successful. The development of a means to attain interfacial bonding between metal and ceramic has been a pacing challenge in materials science and technology for a century. It entails matching or grading of thermal expansion across the interface and attaining a graded chemical composition so that impurities do not concentrate at the boundary to create a slip layer. To date these challenges have been solved in only a modest number of pairings of compatible materials, e.g. Kovar and glass, titanium and ceramic, and aluminum and ceramic. The latter two cases have given rise to the only presently available MMC materials, developed for aerospace applications. Those materials have been possible because the matrix metal is highly reactive at elevated temperature so that graded composition and intimate bonding happens naturally at the fiber-matrix interface. For metals that are not highly reactive at processing temperature, however, successful bonding is much more difficult. Recent success has been made with copper MMCs for cooling channels in first-wall designs for fusion. The focus of the Phase 1 program has been the development of a new approach to achieving bonding between a SiC fiber and a metal matrix. We solve the interface problem by coating the fiber with a thin layer of the matrix metal before it is incorporated into the matrix. Achieving bonding at the SiC-metal interface is addressed by introducing adhesion layers and tempo transition layers as intermediate steps in the deposition process. When the coated fiber is then introduced into a metal matrix, the bonding is between identical metals and should proceed readily. This approach is proprietary and is the subject of a patent application that is in preparation. We expect that it will make it possible to form a metal matrix composite with virtually any metal and any ceramic. The importance of this development is given context by the comments of another group who are developing ceramic-matrix composites (CMC) which pose similar problems Given the difficulty of the project (and a series of unforeseen HR issues), we feel that enough progress has been made during the execution of this Phase I effort to warrant its continuation, even though we did not meet the original goal of fabricating a complete sample MMC for high-temperature creep testing. We believe (and intend to demonstrate in this report and proposal) that the interfacial coating technology we are developing has the merit to continue into Phase II in its own right. Our Axial Thermal Evaporation (ATE) process, invented during the execution of this Phase I SBIR and currently in development, has the potential to improve any fiber-based composite utilizing metal as an interfacial coating component. The reviewers comments received at the start of the Phase I were thoughtful, insightful, and pertinent. Based on their comments we strove to identify the most important 'go/no-go' technical challenges of our approach, then solve as many of those challenges as possible. It became obvious that the key such challenge is the development of a functionally graded system of ceramic/metal intermetallics at the fiber surface. We believe that our Phase I proposal contained the correct technological approach, but that our strategy for implementing this approach was flawed on two accounts: The metallization method and the fiber incorporation method. During the execution of this Phase I, we have corrected both flaws in our strategy and turned them into strengths.