Characterization of high-explosive detonations using broadband infrared external cavity quantum cascade laser absorption spectroscopy

Mark C. Phillips, Bruce E. Bernacki, Sivanandan S. Harilal, Brian E. Brumfield, Joel M. Schwallier, Nick G. Glumac

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Infrared laser absorption spectroscopy provides a powerful tool for probing physical and chemical properties of high-explosive detonations. A broadly tunable swept-wavelength external cavity quantum cascade laser operating in the mid-wave infrared (MWIR) spectral region is used to measure transmission through explosive fireballs generated from 14 g charges of 4 different explosive types detonated in an enclosed chamber. Analysis of time-resolved transmission and emission at a 2 μs sampling rate shows the evolution of fireball infrared opacity in the first 10 ms after detonation. Broadband high-resolution absorption spectra acquired over the spectral range of 2050-2300 cm-1 (4.35-4.88 μm) at a 100 Hz rate are used to measure properties of fireball evolution over longer time scales out to 100 s. Path-integrated concentrations of combustion products CO, CO2, H2O, and N2O are measured and show evolutions over multiple time scales and significant differences between explosive types. Spectral analysis is used to characterize gas temperature and to measure broadband attenuation from absorption and scattering of particulates. Analysis of the results provides information on the MWIR optical properties, gaseous detonation/combustion products, and particulates throughout the explosive process including initial detonation, fireball expansion and cooling, and diffusive mixing in the chamber.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number093102
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 7 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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