Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

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What happens when an explosive is detonated?

Scientists at Los Alamos combine computer simulations and innovative experiments that verify what the computers come up with, particularly the simulations of the short-lived chemical bonds formed during detonation.
November 30, 2018
This open-air high-explosives detonation was conducted in 2003.

Los Alamos scientists are seeking a better understanding of how detonation works chemically. This open-air high-explosives detonation was conducted in 2003.

What happens when an explosive is detonated?

by David S. Moore

When an explosion goes off, we often think of the damage it does. We seldom think of explosions as constructive, but explosives have always been a critical component of industries such as mining, construction, transportation and even metal bonding.

The mystery of detonation centers on the chemical reactions that take place right after the supersonic shock wave hits the material, a process that lasts only a billionth of a second. To unravel this mystery, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory combine computer simulations and innovative experiments that verify what the computers come up with, particularly the simulations of the short-lived chemical bonds formed during detonation.

This story first appeared in Albuquerque Journal.