Science 2 min read

X-Ray Technique Captures Shock Wave's Deformation Effect on Aluminum

Eduard Muzhevskyi /

Eduard Muzhevskyi /

We associate X-Rays more with medicine since medical imaging is their main application. But, X-Ray techniques can be adapted for many other uses.

The same X-Rays that peer through soft tissue to check on bones can be used in archeology (paleoradiology), art, and security (airport scanners).

One X-Ray technique is X-ray diffraction analysis (XRD) that serves as a non-destructive tool to determine the state of materials and their composition.

A Japanese research group has used this X-Ray technique to investigate shock wave propagation in materials.

Shining X-Ray Light on the Micromechanisms of Material Deformation

As the shock wave rapidly propagates through the material, deformations start to show, affecting the material’s molecular structure.

Material scientists are interested to understand how a material subjected to a shock wave would respond after an impact, and a new X-Ray technique could come in handy.

XRD can also be used to study the molecular and atomic structure of materials aftershock, and reveal the micromechanisms behind their deformation.

The new study involves scientists from four Universities in Japan: the Institute of Materials Structure Science of KEK, Tokyo Institute of Tech, Kumamoto University, and the University of Tsukuba.

The team used X-ray diffraction probes to observe the deformation process of materials. For their experiment, they subjected polycrystalline aluminum foil to a laser-driven shock wave and turned on their X-ray diffractometer.

They captured the disturbance that occurred “as diffraction spots of an x-ray beam which could be simultaneously compared to the diffraction pattern of the pre-shock crystal” (picture below).

Diagram of how the new X-ray technique captures the deformation effect of shock waves on aluminum
Image courtesy of Tokyo Institute of Technology

“We observed grain refinement and structural changes of the polycrystalline metal, which increased with the propagation of the laser-driven shock wave. This, in turn, enabled the study of microstructural deformation in plastic shock flows from the atomic to the mesoscale level,” explains Dr. Kohei Ichiyanagi of High Energy Accelerator Research Organization and Jichi Medical University.

By enabling the observation of post-shock structural changes on materials, this new X-Ray technique would be a valuable tool for the study of microstructural deformation in metals, alloys, ceramics, and many other materials.

It addresses the shortcomings of other techniques by shining an (X-Ray) light on the process of shock wave propagation and the defects distribution through the material.

Read More: 3D Microscopy Could Be Key To Unlocking Super Alloy’s Potential

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Zayan Guedim

Trilingual poet, investigative journalist, and novelist. Zed loves tackling the big existential questions and all-things quantum.

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