Full-scale high-speed schlieren imaging of explosions and gunshots

Gary S. Settles, Torben P. Grumstrup, Lori J. Dodson, J. D. Miller, Joseph A. Gatto

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


High-speed imaging and cinematography are important in research on explosions, firearms, and homeland security. Much can be learned from imaging the motion of shock waves generated by such explosive events. However, the required optical equipment is generally not available for such research due to the small aperture and delicacy of the optics and the expense and expertise required to implement high-speed optical methods. For example, previous aircraft hardening experiments involving explosions aboard full-scale aircraft lacked optical shock imaging, even though such imaging is the principal tool of explosion and shock wave research. Here, experiments are reported using the Penn State Full-Scale Schlieren System, a lens-and-grid-type optical system with a very large field-of-view. High-speed images are captured by photography using an electronic flash and by a new high-speed digital video camera. These experiments cover a field-of-view of 2×3 m at frame rates up to 30 kHz. Our previous high-speed schlieren cinematography experiments on aircraft hardening used a traditional drum camera and photographic film. A stark contrast in utility is found between that technology and the all-digital high-speed videography featured in this paper.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number174
Pages (from-to)60-68
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - 2005
Event26th International Congress on High-Speed Photography and Photonics - Alexandria, VA, United States
Duration: Sep 20 2004Sep 24 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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