Journal of Materials Science

, Volume 19, Issue 5, pp 1629–1637 | Cite as

Dislocations in energetic materials

Part 3 Etching and microhardness studies of pentaerythritol tetranitrate and cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine
  • P. J. Halfpenny
  • K. J. Roberts
  • J. N. Sherwood


An assessment has been made of the primary dislocation slip systems in the explosives pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) and cyclotrimethylene trinitramine (RDX) using a combination of dislocation etching and microhardness indentation techniques. Hardness measurements were made on all major habit faces as a function of temperature and load. These showed that, within the attainable temperature range (PETN 293 to 353 K, RDX 293 to 373 K) no change in hardness occurred which could be associated with the development of deformation mechanisms additional to those operating at room temperature. The hardness values of both materials were consistent with values obtained in some previous measurements (PETN 17 kg mm−2, RDX 39 kg mm−2). Solvent etching with acetone (5 sec at 274 K) proved to be an excellent method for revealing the emergent ends of growth and mechanically induced dislocations in PETN. Etching of microhardness indentations confirmed that observable slip traces comprised dislocations. These migrated up to 160μm (20g load) from the indentation point on both {110} and {101} faces. The alignments defined a {110} primary slip plane. Parallel experiments with RDX yielded evidence of highly localized slip around the indentation mark (90μm, 50g load). Two alignments of etch pits were noticeable. The better defined of these lay at the intersection of the (010) plane with the habit faces. The second could not be defined absolutely but most probably corresponds to the intersection of either the (011) or (012) plane with the surfaces. Consideration of the Burgers vectors of dislocations which are likely to glide in these planes lead us to speculate that the primary slip systems are, PETN {110} [001], and RDX (010) [001]. Such an assignment would be consistent with the relative hardness of the two materials.


Slip System PETN Pentaerythritol Slip Trace Tetranitrate 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Chapman and Hall Ltd. 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. J. Halfpenny
    • 1
  • K. J. Roberts
    • 1
  • J. N. Sherwood
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Pure and Applied ChemistryUniversity of StrathclydeGlasgowUK

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