Energetic Materials and Thin Film Explosives

Technology #31221

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 A cross section depiction of a layered MIC foil comprising alternating first material layers and second material layers, having an interfacial region there betweenA schematic cross-sectional depiction of a layered Al/CuO MIC foil, showing exemplary dimensions, prepared by magnetron sputter deposition
Kevin Coffey, Ph.D.
Bo Yao, Ph.D.
Edward Dein
Patent Protection

Ignitable heterogeneous structures and methods for forming

US Patent 8,298,358 B1

Methods for forming ignitable heterogeneous structures

US Patent 8,465,608 B1

Metastable intermolecular composite (MIC) for forming high-intensity thin film explosives with optimized burn rates and energy densities

While similar to organic reagents in the amount of energy released per unit weight, inorganic reagents are able to release up to 5 times more energy per unit volume, (energy density) thus requiring less space for the same amount of force released. Still, organic energetic materials have a faster reaction velocity, or burn rate, than inorganic materials. In order to increase the burn rate of the material the effective interface (area in which the two components are touching one another) must be improved upon.

To do so the invention utilizes a method for which the two components are stacked on top of one another in thin nanolayers, while avoiding any potential “interfacial reacted zones of thickness.” These zones are made of already reacted materials often caused by excess water vapor left inside the vacuum chamber during the manufacturing process, and will greatly decrease the effective interface between the two components. By substantially increasing the effective interface and virtually eliminating prematurely reacted zones, the invention was able to reach burn rates of up to 180 m/s utilizing inorganic reagents.


This technology from the University of Central Florida reduces the presence of water vapor by nearly a hundred times, which allows for much thinner interfacial regions between the nanolayers, a higher stored energy density, and a reaction velocity that is five times faster than conventional designs. In addition, the controlled application of intense amounts of heat through regulated rapid heat release improves welding, soldering, and brazing, without damaging the peripheral materials.

Technical Details

To create these energetic materials and thin film explosives, layered MIC deposition is accomplished through the contact of two different solid reactants, such as copper oxide and aluminum, which releases heat, resulting in a self-propagating reaction. This is done by sputtering in a vacuum chamber at a low pressure, helping in the reduction of water vapor content. Additionally, pure chemical inert gas is used for sputtering to provide higher purity and prevent water vapor contamination. Moreover, the thickness of the interfacial region over the entire surface area of reactants is less than 2 nanometers, providing higher reaction velocity.


  • Protects peripheral materials
  • Regulates heat release
  • Higher energy-storage
  • Faster reactions


  • Military propellants and explosives
  • Procedures in nanotechnology development

Additional Technology Numbers: 32487