Boron Carbide – What’s it all about?
Boron carbide (also known as black diamond) has a molecular form of B4C. It is often gray-black in color. This is the hardest material known. It can be used to make tank armor, body guards and other industrial applications.
Improvement of High-grade Armor
Researchers have sought to minimize the effects of high-speed bullets striking armor made of Boron Caride for the past twelve years. Kelvin Ya. Xie Assistant Professor, Department of Materials Science and Engineering. This unmet need has been solved by our work. This represents a first step in the development of an advanced body armour that can withstand more powerful gunfires during battle. ”
Boron carbide has been called “black gold” because of its high hardness, which is comparable to that of cubic boron. Boron carbide has a higher production rate than silicon carbide and is therefore more suitable for armor projects such as bulletproof vests.
The Lacking of Boron Carbide Body Armor
Texas A&M University says that the biggest problem with boron carbide can be its rapid destruction when it is subjected to high speed impacts. Xie released the following statement. “Boron carbide is very effective at stopping bullets travelling at 900 meters per seconds, so it can effectively stop most pistol bullets. If it exceeds that speed, however, boron carbonide can suddenly lose its trajectory. This has made performance less effective. ”
High speed vibrations will result in phase changes of boron carbide. This will lead to one or more states changing their internal structures and provide them with two or three physical states. By hitting the bullet, the impact transforms the boron-carbidide atoms into a chaotically arranged and crystallized state. This glass-like state reduces the material integrity between bullet and boron carbonide.
Benefits of Boron Carbide plus Silicon
Xie explained that boron carbide is subject to a phase transition, which causes it to become a transparent state. This creates a pathway for crack growth. The bullet impact damage can quickly spread through the material, and result in more severe damage. . ”
Preliminary computer simulations had shown that small amounts of additional elements could make boron carbide less brittle. Researchers created controlled dents with a diamond tip on a boron-carbide sample to mimic the effect of a high speed bullet. They then used high-power electron microscopes to see the microstructural damage that was caused by the impact.
Xie, along with his colleagues, found that even small amounts of silicon can reduce the amount of phase change by 30%. This greatly decreases the indentation damage. Although silicon is able to improve the properties boron carbonide’s properties in some cases, Xie indicated that additional experiments will be needed to see if any other elements might also enhance its properties.
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