Hot spots in energetic materials generated by infrared and ultrasound, detected by thermal imaging microscopy

Ming Wei Chen, Sizhu You, Kenneth S Suslick, Dana D. Dlott

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


We have observed and characterized hot spot formation and hot-spot ignition of energetic materials (EM), where hot spots were created by ultrasonic or long-wavelength infrared (LWIR) exposure, and were detected by high-speed thermal microscopy. The microscope had 15-20 μm spatial resolution and 8.3 ms temporal resolution. LWIR was generated by a CO2 laser (tunable near 10.6 μm or 28.3 THz) and ultrasound by a 20 kHz acoustic horn. Both methods of energy input created spatially homogeneous energy fields, allowing hot spots to develop spontaneously due to the microstructure of the sample materials. We observed formation of hot spots which grew and caused the EM to ignite. The EM studied here consisted of composite solids with 1,3,5-trinitroperhydro-1,3,5- triazine crystals and polymer binders. EM simulants based on sucrose crystals in binders were also examined. The mechanisms of hot spot generation were different with LWIR and ultrasound. With LWIR, hot spots were most efficiently generated within the EM crystals at LWIR wavelengths having longer absorption depths of ∼25 μm, suggesting that hot spot generation mechanisms involved localized absorbing defects within the crystals, LWIR focusing in the crystals or LWIR interference in the crystals. With ultrasound, hot spots were primarily generated in regions of the polymer binder immediately adjacent to crystal surfaces, rather than inside the EM crystals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number023705
JournalReview of Scientific Instruments
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation


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