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MIT Research News

November 29, 2018

What happens when materials take tiny hits

High-speed camera shows incoming particles cause damage by briefly melting surfaces as they strike.

David L. Chandler | MIT News Office

When tiny particles strike a metal surface at high speed — for example, as coatings being sprayed or as micrometeorites pummeling a space station — the moment of impact happens so fast that the details of process haven’t been clearly understood, until now.

A team of researchers at MIT has just accomplished the first detailed high-speed imaging and analysis of the microparticle impact process, and used that data to predict when the particles will bounce away, stick, or knock material off the surface and weaken it. The new findings are described in a paper appearing today in the journal Nature Communications.