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Surfaces, Microstructure and Fracture Group

Laser-driven flyers are produced by focussing a high-power laser pulse at the rear surface of a metal film deposited on a transparent substrate plate.  The incident laser energy is absorbed at the metal-substrate interface to form a plasma.  The rapid expansion of this plasma causes the remainder of the film to accelerate away from the substrate.  In air, the flyer may typically travel for a few hundred microns at velocities of typically km/s.  Applications for laser-driven flyer plates include simulating micrometeorite impacts and shock-initiating explosives.

The flyer launch mechanism
A typical streak photograph of a laser-driven flyer


For further reading, see:

Watson S. & Field J. E. (2000) "Measurement of the ablated thickness of films in the launch of laser-driven flyer plates" J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. 33 170-174

Watson S., Gifford M. J. & Field J. E. (2000) "The initiation of fine grain pentaerythritol tetranitrate by laser-driven flyer plates" J. Appl. Phys. 88 65-69

Watson S. and Field J.E. (2000) "Integrity of thin, laser-driven flyer plates" J. Appl. Phys. 88 3859-3864

Greenaway M.W., Gifford, M J, Proud, W G, Field, J E & Goveas S.G. (2002) "An investigation into the initiation of hexanitrostilbene by laser-driven flyer plates", in "Shock Compression of Condensed Matter – 2001", ed. M D Furnish, N N Thadhani and Y Horie, pp. 1035-1038, publ. American Institute of Physics

Greenaway M.W., Proud W.G., Field J.E. and Goveas S. (2003) "A laser-accelerated flyer system" Int. J. Impact Engng 29 317-321

Field J.E., Walley S.M., Proud W.G., Balzer J.E., Gifford M.J., Grantham S.G., Greenaway M.G. and Siviour C.R. (2004) "The shock initiation and high strain rate mechanical characterization of ultrafine energetic powders and compositions" Mater. Res. Soc. Symp. Proc. 800 179-190

Greenaway M.W. and Field J.E. (2004) "The development of a laser-driven flyer system" in "Shock Compression of Condensed Matter – 2003", ed. M.D. Furnish et al., pp. 1389-1392, publ. American Institute of Physics

2005 Greenaway M.W. "Measurement of intergranular stress and porosity during dynamic compaction of porous beds of HMX" J. Appl. Phys. 97 093521

2005 Lowe C.A. and Greenaway M.W. "Compaction processes in granular beds composed of different particle sizes", J. Appl. Phys. 98 123519

2008 Parker A., Claridge R.P., Hamid J. and Proud W.G. "Particle size modification of thermally stable secondary explosives for IM applications" Propell. Explos. Pyrotech. 33 55-59