Fast rate fracture of aluminum using high intensity lasers

Dalton, Douglas Allen
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Laser induced shock experiments were performed to study the dynamics of various solid state material processes, including shock-induced melt, fast rate fracture, and elastic to plastic response. Fast rate fracture and dynamic yielding are greatly influenced by microstructural features such as grain boundaries, impurity particles and alloying atoms. Fast fracture experiments using lasers are aimed at studying how material microstructure affects the tensile fracture characteristics at strain rates above 106 s-1. We used the Z-Beamlet Laser at Sandia National Laboratories to drive shocks via ablation and we measured the maximum tensile stress of aluminum targets with various microstructures. Using a velocity interferometer and sample recovery, we are able to measure the maximum tensile stress and determine the source of fracture initiation in these targets. We have explored the role that grain size, impurity particles and alloying in aluminum play in dynamic yielding and spall fracture at tensile strain rates of ~3x106 s-1. Preliminary results and analysis indicated that material grain size plays a vital role in the fracture morphology and spall strength results. In a study with single crystal aluminum specimens, velocity measurements and fracture analysis revealed that a smaller amplitude tensile stress was initiated by impurity particles; however, these particles served no purpose in dynamic yielding. An aluminum-magnesium alloy with various grain sizes presented the lowest spall strength, but the greatest dynamic yield strength. Fracture mode in this alloy was initiated by both grain boundaries and impurity particles. With respect to dynamic yielding, alloying elements such as magnesium serve to decrease the onset of plastic response. The fracture stress and yield stress showed no evidence of grain size dependence. Hydrodynamic simulations with material strength models are used to compare with our experiments. In order to study the strain rate dependence of spall in aluminum we used a shorter pulsed laser and thinner targets. From these experiments we do not observe an increase in spall strength for aluminum up to strain rates of ~2x107 s-1.