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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/K028707/1
Title: Silicon doped boron carbide a lightweight impact resistant material
Principal Investigator: Giuliani, Professor F
Other Investigators:
Eakins, Dr D
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
AWE Defence Science & Tech Lab DSTL Kennametal
Department: Materials
Organisation: Imperial College London
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 31 December 2013 Ends: 12 May 2017 Value (£): 661,579
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Instrumentation Eng. & Dev. Materials Synthesis & Growth
Materials testing & eng.
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Aerospace, Defence and Marine
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
07 May 2013 Engineering Prioritisation Meeting 7/8 May 2013 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
There is a need for impact resistance light weight materials for a number of applications including, 1) for the aerospace industry, particularly satellites where protection from high speed space debris is required 2) ballistic personal armour. In this case, high quality light weight armour is essential to protect soldiers and to allow them function efficiently. In both cases high velocity impacts occur and weight is crucial. Boron carbide has the potential to be an excellent material as it is very hard and very light; however it unexpectedly fragments under shock or high pressure loading. We have shown in preliminary work that by carefully adjusting the chemistry of the material with small additions of Silicon the mechanism of fragmentation under high pressure loading is suppressed, although it is unclear if this translates to improved impact performance.

Therefore in this work we aim to study in detail the mechanism by which boron carbide deforms and how this is altered by small additions of Silicon. This will involve deforming the materials within a high resolution electron microscope to understand which parts of the materials fail first and how. In parallel to these experiments, high velocity gas gun experiments on larger samples will help us understand how the deformation moves through the material, this is particularly important in impact resistant materials. Among other things this will require considerable improvements in our ceramic processing knowledge to produce the large amounts of the silicon stabilized boron carbide particularly for the gas gun experiments. However, if successful this knowledge will directly relevant to our industrial partners who will be able to quickly exploit it. The cutting edge analysis that will be required for this project will rely of devolvement of analytical techniques that can be applied in the future to a range of other materials. This includes high speed spectroscopic diagnostic tools which do not exist in the country at this time.

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Organisation Website: http://www.imperial.ac.uk