Nanofractography of shocked RDX explosive crystals with atomic force microscopy

Sharma, J.; Armstrong, R. W.; Elban, W. L.; Coffey, C. S.; Sandusky, H. W.
January 2001
Applied Physics Letters;1/22/2001, Vol. 78 Issue 4, p457
Academic Journal
Examination with atomic force microscopy has revealed apparent shear-type cleavage steps with heights as small as 0.05 nm, smaller than the size of cyclotrimethylenetrintramine (RDX) molecules, on the fracture surfaces of crystals that were subjected to aquarium shocks of 61.6 or 129 kbar, both greater than the pressure (38 kbar) required for the alpha-to-gamma phase transformation. The shocked centimeter size, originally transparent crystals became opaque and white from prolific fractures and internal cracks that are associated with their breakup into nanocrystallites of sizes extending from 500 down to 20 nm. The submolecular steps are related geometrically to the macroscale (K[sub ||]) fracture mechanics mode of shear fracturing that has obvious consequences at the nanoscale level for nonregistry between molecules across the crack surfaces. The results are of interest in relation to lattice trapping of crack fronts and as a contribution to the possibility of deformation-induced chemical decomposition/detonations.


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