Characterization of surface cratering and particle deformation during high speed microparticle impact events

Austin J. Andrews, Devin A.J. McGee, Ioannis Pothos, Nathan A. Bellefeuille, Kaleb A. Siekmeier, Bernard A. Olson, Thomas E. Schwartzentruber, Christopher J. Hogan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Simple-to-use damage models are important in predicting the outcome of high speed particle impacts for high speed vehicles traveling in particle laden flows. Such models largely hinge upon experimental data from well-characterized single-impact events. In this study we developed and applied an experimental system to systematically examine surface cratering and particle deposition driven by high speed micrometer particle impacts onto Aluminum 6061-T6 substrates and Inconel 718 substrates. Monodisperse ferrous sulfate particles 1.8 and 6.2 micrometer in diameter were accelerated using a converging-diverging nozzle to achieve varying impact velocities in the range of 0.29–0.84 km s-1 as measured by laser Doppler velocimetry. Post-mortem surface characterization was carried out using a combination of atomic force microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. For the aluminum samples, we then utilize traditional non-dimensional groups to develop scaling relationships between crater size, particle size, velocity and incident angle. Measurement results are found to agree with data from previous studies at higher impact velocities, but notably with a sharper slope between dimensionless crater size and dimensionless impact energy, indicative of a non-negligible amount of particle elastic rebound influencing the outcome of the impact process. In addition, in contrast to crater formation observed on aluminum, equivalent impacts onto Inconel 718 led to no discernible crater formation and instead adhesion and deformation of the impacting particles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104682
JournalInternational Journal of Impact Engineering
StatePublished - Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was conducted with support from the FY2020 MURI grant N00014-20-1-2682 from the Office of Naval Research. All SEM and AFM data were obtained at the Characterization Facility, University of Minnesota, which receives partial support from the NSF through the MRSEC (Award Number DMR-2011401) and the NNCI (Award Number ECCS-2025124) programs.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Ltd


  • Atomic force microscopy
  • Crater formation
  • Microparticle impacts
  • Supersonic flows

MRSEC Support

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