Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation
Main content start

Metal-based energetic materials (e.g., Aluminum and Boron) have extremely high volumetric and specific energy densities, so they have a broad range of applications ranging from propulsion, pyrotechnics, and material synthesis to thermal energy generation. However, metal-based energetic materials have high temperatures/energies, long ignition delay time, and incomplete combustion, which limits their energy release rate and efficiency. To address these challenges, our group synthesizes novel nanostructured energetic materials (e.g., core/shell, surface functionalization) and uses nanomaterial additives (e.g., graphene oxide, graphene fluoride, porous Si) and studies their impacts on the ignition and combustion performance of metal-based energetic materials. We have successfully demonstrated that those approaches are effective in lowering the ignition temperatures, ignition delay time, and improving the heat release rate and overall heat release of metal fuels and energetic composites.

Optically Activated Aluminum/Graphene Oxide Composite

2-D graphene oxide additives undergo disproportionation reaction by optically xenon flash. The exothermic disproportionation and oxidation reactions of graphene oxide provide additional heat and oxygen to facilitate in lowering the ignition energy and enhancing the heat release rate of Al. Such reduction in ignition energy and enhancement in the heat release rate of Al is noticeable by adding 3-20 wt% graphene oxide additives. (link)

Thermal and Optical Ignition of Silicon Nano/Microparticles

We found that the measured minimum ignition energy decreases with decreasing Si particle size and is most sensitive to the porosity of the Si particle bed. These trends for the Xe flash ignition experiments are also confirmed by our one-dimensional unsteady simulation to model the heat transfer process. The quantitative information on Si particle ignition could guide the safe handling, storage, and utilization of Si particles for diverse applications and prevent unwanted fire hazards. (link)

Surface Functionalization of Boron Particles

We demonstrate that the surface functionalization of B particles with nonpolar oleoyl chloride greatly improves the dispersion and interaction of B particles within the HTPB polymer matrix, which results in simultaneously enhanced mechanical properties and heat of combustion of B/HTPB composites. Those results suggest that the surface functionalization of B particles is an effective and simple strategy for improving the efficacy and safety of B/HTPB solid fuels for future high-speed air-breathing vehicles. (link)

Selected Publications

  1. "Facile Thermal and Optical Ignition of Silicon Nanoparticles and Micron Particles.", S. Huang, V. Parimi, S. Deng, S. Lingamneni and X. L. Zheng, Nano Lett (2017) (link)
  2. "Energetic Performance of Optically Activated Aluminum/Graphene Oxide Composites", Y. Jiang, S. Deng, S. Hong, J. Zhao, S. Huang, C. Wu, J. L. Gottfried, K. Nomura, Y. Li, S. Tiwari, R. Kalia, P. Vashishta, A. Nakano and X. L. Zheng, ACS Nano (2018) (link)
  3. "Synergistically Chemical and Thermal Coupling between Graphene Oxide and Graphene Fluoride for Enhancing Aluminum Combustion", Y. Jiang, S. Deng, S. Hong, S. Tiwari, H. Chen, K. Nomura, R. K. Kalia, A. Nakano, P. Vashishta, M. R. Zachariah and X. L. Zheng, ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces (2020) (link)
  4. "Enhancing Combustion Performance of Nano-Al/PVDF Composites with β-PVDF", S. Huang, S. Hong, Y. Su, Y. Jiang, S. Fukushima, T. M. Gill, N. E. D. Yilmaz, S. Tiwari, K. Nomura, R. K. Kalia, A. Nakano, F. Shimojo, P. Vashishta, M. Chen and X. L. Zheng, Combust. Flame (2020) (link)
  5. "Enhancing Mechanical and Combustion Performance of Boron/Polymer Composites via Boron Particle Functionalization", Y. Jiang, N. E. Dincer Yilmaz, K. P. Barker, J. Baek, Y. Xia and X. L. Zheng, ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces (2021) (link)

Interested in this research area?

Contact Yue Jiang (, Andy Huynh (, or Dongwon Ka (