Date of Award

Summer 1962

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Small metal wires can be exploded electrically by the current surge from a capacitor. This phenomenon, although observed as much as two centuries ago, has only recently become the object of intensive research. Numerous investigators have studied the explosion mechanism itself and various applications of the process, but very little study has been made of the solid aerosol disperse phase which results from each wire explosion. The present investigation is concerned with an x-ray diffraction analysis, both qualitative and quantitative of such aerosol samples. Preliminary qualitative analyses of aerosols from 15 different metals exploded in air or inert atmosphere have been completed. Results indicate that the explosion of noble metals in air and of base metals in argon produces aerosols consisting of metallic particles. Base metal wires exploded in air produce aerosols consisting primarily of oxides. Two series of copper-oxide aerosols were prepared with various charging voltages applied to a 20 uf capacitor bank. The first series was exploded in dry air at voltages ranging from 2 to 18 KV. The second series was exploded in dry air at voltages ranging from 3 to 13 KV. These samples were studied intensively to determine the quantitative variation in composition with energy input to the explosion. The direct-comparison method of quantitative x-ray diffraction analysis had to be used because of the unique nature of the aerosol deposit. Results for the first series of samples show that the CuO content increases rapidly between 2.25 and 5 KV, while the amount of Cu2o and unoxidized Cu decreases. Above 5 KV the composition remains nearly constant, with CuO accounting for almost the entire sample. In the second series of samples, the variation in oxide content is erratic, with each oxide varying widely about a mean weight fraction of 0.5. The decrease in Cu content is smooth through the KV range. The difference in composition between Series 1 and Series 2 samples is attributed mainly to a rearrangement made in the capacitor bank used for explosion.