Shock initiation of explosives: High temperature hot spots explained

Will P. Bassett, Belinda P. Johnson, Nitin K. Neelakantan, Kenneth S. Suslick, Dana D. Dlott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigated the shock initiation of energetic materials with a tabletop apparatus that uses km s-1 laser-driven flyer plates to initiate tiny explosive charges and obtains complete temperature histories with a high dynamic range. By comparing various microstructured formulations, including a pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) based plastic explosive (PBX) denoted XTX-8003, we determined that micron-scale pores were needed to create high hot spot temperatures. In charges where micropores (i.e., micron-sized pores) were present, a hot spot temperature of 6000 K was observed; when the micropores were pre-compressed to nm scale, however, the hot spot temperature dropped to ∼4000 K. By comparing XTX-8003 with an analog that replaced PETN by nonvolatile silica, we showed that the high temperatures require gas in the pores, that the high temperatures were created by adiabatic gas compression, and that the temperatures observed can be controlled by the choice of ambient gases. The hot spots persist in shock-compressed PBXs even in vacuum because the initially empty pores became filled with gas created in-situ by shock-induced chemical decomposition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number061902
JournalApplied Physics Letters
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 7 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Shock initiation of explosives: High temperature hot spots explained'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this