Hot-spot generation and growth in shocked plastic-bonded explosives studied by optical pyrometry

Will P. Bassett, Belinda P. Johnson, Lawrence Salvati, Dana D. Dlott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aggregate behavior of hot spots in shocked plastic-bonded explosives (PBX) was studied by nanosecond optical pyrometry. The averaged thermal emission spectra from at least 25 tiny (50 μg) explosive charges of a pentaerythritol tetranitrate PBX, at several impact velocities from 1.5 to 4.5 km/s, was used to determine average temperatures and emissivities. Individual spectra were analyzed to determine the distribution of hot spot temperatures in individual charges with unique microstructures. Understanding shocks in tiny charges with different microstructures is needed to understand shocks in large PBX charges which sample many microstructures as they propagate. The initial hot spot density was several percent, and the average initial hot spot temperature of 4000 K was, surprisingly, independent of impact velocity. With underdriven shocks, the initial hot spot temperatures clustered around 4000 K, but with overdriven shocks, there were both hotter and colder hot spots. The initial hot spot density increased quadratically with impact velocity. The generation of hot spots was described by a model with a threshold energy to trigger hot spot formation and a distribution of energetic barriers to hot spot formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number215904
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number21
StatePublished - Jun 7 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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