David F. Bahr

Head and Professor of Materials Engineering

Telephone: (765) 494-4100
Email: dfbahr@purdue.edu
More about David F. Bahr


Graduate Students

Alexandra Burch
School: Materials Science and Engineering
Expected Graduation: May, 2020
Project/Thesis: Small scale testing to assess mechanical behavior of anisotropic molecular crystals

Matthew Taw
Graduated: December 2017
School: Materials Science and Engineering
Project/Thesis: “Linking Nanoscale Mechanical Behavior To Bulk Physical Properties And Phenomena Of Energetic Materials


Recent Publications

The Mechanical Properties of Minimally Processed RDX

Taw, Matthew R. ; Bahr, David F.
Propellants, Explosives, Pyrotechnics, June 2017, Vol.42(6), pp.659-664


We report for the first time the mechanical properties of RDX crystals in a conventionally processed, sub‐millimeter form that have had no additional mechanical processing. Nanoindentation of RDX powders was used to measure the elastic modulus (19.1±1.9 GPa), hardness (0.741±0.098 GPa), and yield point (onset of plastic deformation) on the as‐grown faces of seven different RDX crystals, selected to provide random orientations. Properties within each crystal showed narrow distributions, while the range of properties across all crystals is indicative of testing a variety of orientations. The elastic modulus and hardness are within the range of other published reports on bulk and mechanically polished RDX. The distribution in yield point behavior, with the onset of plasticity occurring between 0.1 and 0.7 GPa, indicates that powders of RDX likely contain a significant number of dislocation sources in the as‐processed condition, suggesting that deformation sources are prevalent in the energetic component of plastic bonded explosives prior to incorporating into pressed forms.


The mechanical properties of as-grown noncubic organic molecular crystals assessed by nanoindentation

Taw, Matthew R ; Yeager, John D ; Hooks, Daniel E ; Carvajal, Teresa M ; Bahr, David F
Journal of Materials Research, 19 June 2017, Vol.32(14)


Organic molecular crystals are often noncubic and contain significant steric hindrance within their structure to resist dislocation motion. Plastic deformation in these systems can be imparted during processing (tableting and comminution of powders), and the defect density impacts subsequent properties and performance. This paper measured the elastic and plastic properties of representative monoclinic, orthorhombic, and triclinic molecular crystalline structures using nanoindentation of as-grown sub-mm single crystals. The variation in modulus due to in-plane rotational orientation, relative to a Berkovich tip, was approximately equal to the variation of a given crystal at a fixed orientation. The onset of plasticity occurs consistently at shear stresses between 1 and 5% of the elastic modulus in all three crystal systems, and the hardness to modulus ratio suggests conventional Berkovich tips do not generate fully self-similar plastic zones in these materials. Finally, this provides guidance for mechanical models of tableting, machining, and property assessment of molecular crystals.


Nanoindentation of HMX and Idoxuridine to Determine Mechanical Similarity

Burch, Alexandra ; Yeager, John ; Bahr, David
Crystals, 01 November 2017, Vol.7(11)


Assessing the mechanical behavior (elastic properties, plastic properties, and fracture phenomena) of molecular crystals is often complicated by the difficulty in preparing samples. Pharmaceuticals and energetic materials in particular are often used in composite structures or tablets, where the individual grains can strongly impact the solid behavior. Nanoindentation is a convenient method to experimentally assess these properties, and it is used here to demonstrate the similarity in the mechanical properties of two distinct systems: individual crystals of the explosive cyclotetramethylene tetranitramine (HMX) and the pharmaceutical idoxuridine were tested in their as-precipitated state, and the effective average modulus and hardness (which can be orientation dependent) were determined. Both exhibit a hardness of 1.0 GPa, with an effective reduced modulus of 25 and 23 GPa for the HMX and idoxuridine, respectively. They also exhibit similar yield point behavior. This indicates idoxuridine may be a suitable mechanical surrogate (or “mock”) for HMX. While the methodology to assess elastic and plastic properties was relatively insensitive to specific crystal orientation (i.e., a uniform distribution in properties was observed for all random crystals tested), the indentation-induced fracture properties appear to be much more sensitive to tip-crystal orientation, and an unloading slope analysis is used to demonstrate the need for further refinement in relating toughness to orientation in these materials with relatively complex slip systems and crystal structures.


Indentation fracture behavior of energetic and inert molecular crystals

Burch, Alexandra ; Yeager, John ; Bahr, David
Journal of Materials Research, Dec 2019, Vol.34(23), pp.3954-3963


Measuring the elastic and plastic properties with nanoindentation is predicated on the indentation not fracturing the material. In this study, an unloading curve analysis is used to identify indentation-induced fracture in brittle molecular organic crystals to define conditions, where properties measurements are accurate, and for calculating the toughness. Single crystals of cyclotetramethylene tetranitramine (HMX) and idoxuridine were indented from 1 to 300 mN with indenter probes of varying acuity to identify fracture initiation loads. Idoxuridine displayed no fracture up to and at 100 mN, with fracture occurrence then seen at an increasing rate until every indentation made induced fracture at 300 mN. HMX displayed no fracture up to and at 4 mN, with fracture then occurring at an increasing rate until every sample fractured at 8 mN. The toughness of HMX and idoxuridine is ≈0.28 ≈ 0.4–0.5 MPa/m1/2, respectively.


A Thermal and Nanomechanical Study of Molecular Crystals as Versatile Mocks for Pentaerythritol Tetranitrate

Alexandra C. Burch ; Zakary R. Wilde ; David F. Bahr ; John D. Yeager
Crystals, 01 February 2020, Vol.10(2), p.126


Pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) is a commonly used high explosive (HE) in detonators. Often, surrogate or “mock” materials are used in place of HE for mechanical tests, proofing out equipment, or developing new diagnostics. However, there is no commonly accepted mock for PETN. A good mock should match at least one physical property of the target material, and ideally mimic multiple thermal and mechanical properties. Here, we investigate several molecular crystals to evaluate their efficacy in mocking PETN density, melting point, elastic modulus, hardness, plastic deformation, and fracture behavior. Materials were tested with a combination of calorimetry and nanoindentation. Two materials, 2,4,6-trifluorobenzoic acid (246 TFBA) and mesoerythritol, were downselected for detailed indentation study after the initial round of screening experiments, both were found to mimic PETN mechanical behavior quite well, 246 TFBA closer to PETN in most properties (hardness, modulus, and density) than erythritol, but erythritol having advantages in relative cost and matching the onset of yield. Depending on the desired implementation of the mock, one material may be preferred over the other, but both have potential as generic mocks for PETN. Nanoindentation is demonstrated as a versatile tool to provide rapid screening of these materials’ mechanical properties.