Boron Carbide – What Is It?
Boron carburide also known by the name black diamond has a molecular formula of B4C. It is usually a gray or black powder. It is one the three hardest substances known. It’s used in many industrial applications, including tank armor and body shields.
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In the past 12 year, researchers have looked for ways to reduce damage caused by bullets traveling at high speeds hitting armor made from boron carbide. Dr. Kelvin Yu Xie Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering said: “Our research has now met this need. This is an important step toward designing advanced body armor to protect against powerful weapons in battle.
Boron carbide has been called “black diamand” and is only second in hardness to cubic boron. The boron-carbide armor material is lighter and harder than silicon carbide and easier to mass-produce.
Boron Carbide Body Armor Lack
According to Texas A&M University’s research, the main drawback of boron carbide is that it can easily be damaged by high-speed impacts. Xie, in a recent statement, said: “Boron carbide is really effective at stopping bullets traveling at 900 meters per seconds. It can therefore effectively block the majority of pistol bullets. But if the speed is exceeded, the boron carbide will lose its trajectory. Performance has become less efficient.”
Scientists have discovered that high-speed vibrating boron carbide will lead to a phase transition, whereby the internal structure of boron carbonate will be altered and it will appear in more than one physical state at once. The bullet’s impact transforms boron carbide from a systematically organized crystalline state into a disorderly-arranged glass state. This glass-like condition weakens material integrity in the area of contact between the bullet and the boron carbide.
Boron Carbide Plus Silica: Benefits
Xie explained: “When boron carbide undergoes a state change, its glassy form creates a path that cracks can follow. If a bullet impacts the material locally, the damage can easily spread and cause further damage. .”
Computer simulations suggested that small amounts other elements could reduce the brittleness of boron-carbide. The researchers used a diamond tip to create controllable dents in a boron-carbide sample. This was done to simulate the initial impact from a high speed bullet. The researchers then observed the micro-damage caused by the impact using a high-power electronic microscope.
Xie, his colleagues and their research showed that the amount of phase changes was reduced by 30% even if there is a low silicon content. This reduces indentation damage by a significant margin. Xie says that while silicon may enhance the properties boron carbide, further experiments are necessary to find out if other elements also can improve boron carbonide’s properties.
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