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Boron Carbide – What is it and what does it do?
Boron carburide also known by the name black diamond has a molecular formulation of B4C. It is typically gray-black in powder form. 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 last 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 a “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 is easily damaged by high-speed impacts. Xie, in a recent statement, said: “Boron carbide is very effective at stopping bullets traveling at 900 meters per seconds. It can therefore effectively block the majority of pistol bullets. If the speed is exceeded, then the trajectory of boron carbide will be affected. Performance has become less efficient.”
Scientists have discovered that high-speed vibrating boron carbide will lead to a phase shift. One of these changes will alter its internal structure, presenting two or multiple physical states simultaneously. The bullet’s impact transforms boron carbide from a systematically organized crystalline state into a disorderly-arranged glass state. The contact area between boron and carbide is weakened by this glassy-like state.
Boron Carbide Plus Silica: Benefits
Xie explained: “When boron carbide undergoes a state change, its glassy form creates a pathway that cracks can follow. The impact of a gun can cause localized damage that will spread to the entire material. .”
Previous computer simulations suggested that adding small amounts other elements could make boron carbide less brittle. 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 gun. 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 the properties.
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