L-263 Effects of Electromagnetic Radiation on Munitions Part 1: Microwave and Terahertz Radiation

November 2020
Christelle ColletMatthew FerranKevin M. Jaansalu

This document is to serve as a background resource for the broad array of interactions that electromagnetic radiation may have with energetic materials. The ranges of interest are microwave radiation and terahertz (THz) radiation.

Heating of energetic materials by microwave radiation is a credible hazard; however, the scope of the associated safety risk is dependent on factors including the electromagnetic environment to which the munition system will be exposed, the dielectric properties of the energetic material, and the design of the munition system. For new munition systems that may be subject to a severe Electromagnetic Environment (EME), that contain graphite or powdered metals, and that are not encased in metal, an assessment of munition susceptibility to microwave heating should be conducted.

Higher frequency electromagnetic radiation in the terahertz range has been used as a means to characterize energetic materials.  Several studies located in the literature document the reflection spectra from energetic compounds in the terahertz bandwidth.  None of these studies reported any safety issues concerning the examined energetic materials, neither during, nor after THz illumination. As a consequence, and as far as is known, there is no indication that THz radiation may induce any safety issue when illuminating energetic materials.

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Christelle Collet
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Matthew Ferran
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