University of Michigan Researchers Produce Cocrystal Explosives that Reduce Shock Sensitivity

Problem: For the transport of counter-WMD weapons, minimizing the area of the safety zone that must surround the stored weapon is important, especially in space-constrained environments such as aboard ships. DTRA has funded basic research into developing munitions formulations with lower shock sensitivity than traditional single component energetic materials. In particular, the DTRA-funded basic research is aimed at understanding the supramolecular chemistry principles needed to design, synthesize and scale up manufacture of multi-component high energy compounds with superior shock resistance.


A conceptual diagram describing cocrystallization as an approach to producing counter WMD weapons materials with low shock sensitivity that will be more stable during transport and storage than conventionally crystallized materials.

Results: Under a DTRA-funded program, Professor Adam Matzger of the University of Michigan created a database of known cocrystals and used it to predict likely cocrystal formers with TNT. Particularly promising cocrystals for explosive smart material applications were then synthesized, subjected to thermal and impact stability tests, and had their detonation powers predicted. Large samples of the cocrystals were produced inexpensively by growth from solution and solvent- mediated experiments.

Potential: Preliminary results suggest that cocrystal explosives may exhibit dramatically lower shock sensitivity, and the elucidation of energetic cocrystal design principles under this research program will enable optimization of munitions formulations with lower shock sensitivities.

Transition/Impact: The Joint Insensitive Munitions Technology Program (JIMPT) has scaled up production of cocrystal compounds identified in the DTRA-funded basic research program to produce 40 g quantities and is using these materials in explosive formulations. The DTRA-funded basic research program also led to the award of a Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) to the University of Michigan and others to extend this work.



DENY ADVERSARY SANCTUARY & FUNCTIONAL DEFEAT OF INFRASTRUCTURE (TA-4)
HDTRA1-09-1-0033: COCRYSTAL ENGINEERING OF ENERGETIC MATERIALS
ADAM MATZGER, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN