Shock Wave Compression of Condensed Matter – A Primer

Jerry W. Forbes

Springer Heidelberg New York Dordrecht London, 2012

Purchase a copy of this book from the publisher.

This book introduces the core concepts of the shock wave physics of condensed matter, taking a continuum mechanics approach to examine liquids and isotropic solids.The text primarily focuses on one-dimensional uniaxial compression in order to show the key features of condensed matter’s response to shock wave loading.

The first four chapters are specifically designed to quickly familiarize physical scientists and engineers with how shock waves interact with other shock waves or material boundaries, as well as to allow readers to better understand shock wave literature, use basic data analysis techniques, and design simple 1-D shock wave experiments. This is achieved by first presenting the steady one-dimensional strain conservation laws using shock wave impedance matching, which insures conservation of mass, momentum and energy. Here, the initial emphasis is on the meaning of shock wave and mass velocities in a laboratory coordinate system.

An overview of basic experimental techniques for measuring pressure, shock velocity, mass velocity, compression and internal energy of steady 1-D shock waves is then presented. In the second part of the book, more advanced topics are progressively introduced: thermodynamic surfaces are used to describe equilibrium flow behavior, first-order Maxwell solid models are used to describe time-dependent flow behavior, descriptions of detonation shock waves in ideal and non-ideal explosives are provided, and lastly, a select group of current issues in shock wave physics are discussed in the final chapter.


    • Introduction to Shock Wave Physics of Condensed Matter
    • Plane One-Dimensional Shock Waves
    • Impedance Matching Technique
    • Experimental Techniques
    • Thermodynamics of Shock Waves
    • Solids
    • Differential Conservation Equations and Time-Dependant Flow
    • First-Order Polymorphic and Melting Phase Transitions Under Shock Loading
    • Secondary Ideal High Explosives Non-Steady Initiation Process and Steady Detonation Wave Models
    • Steady Detonation Waves in Right Circular Cylinders of Non-ideal Explosives
    • Special Topics: Lagrangian Coordinates, Spall, and Radiation Induced shock


  • Appendix 1. Symbols, Useful Conversion Factors, and Some Basic Equation for Steady Shock Waves
  • Appendix 2. Hugoniots for Some Materials
  • Appendix 3. One-Dimensional Steady Shock Conservation Equations
  • Appendix 4. Impedance Matching Rule and Four Basic Examples
  • Appendix 5. Analytical Impedance Matching for Two Most Common Cases.
  • Appendix 6. Thermodynamic Parameter Definitions and Relationship.


This is a terrific new book on shock compression science from one of the top researchers in the field. I have worked with shock waves for a number of years, but I was not formally trained in the area. What makes this book special is the emphasis on explaining the fundamentals in an extremely clear and logical fashion.

The other standard texts in this field seem to assume a level of knowledge that I did not possess, so I had a very difficult time understanding them. These topics included impedance-matching, shock wave profiles, phase transitions and steady detonation waves. Although I had studied them for many years, they were made clear to me for the first time when I read this book. A great “aha” experience. This book has also been a gift to my students, who bought the Kindle edition and finally have a reference that is fun to read and tremendously instructive. I think that experts in the field can appreciate and enjoy this book and its perceptive insights, and for newcomers it is a positive must have.

– Dana D. Dlott

William H. and Janet G. Lycan Professor of Chemistry University of Illinois
A208 Chemical and Life Sciences Laboratory Box 01-6 CLSL, MC-712 600 S. Mathews Ave.
Urbana, IL 61801-3602

This book provides a fantastic introduction to the nuts and bolts of shock compression of materials and will be a canonical reference for neophytes and experts alike. There is a pressing need for a treatment of this subject that can be handed to a new student to get him/her up to speed; Forbes has provided that book.

The book begins with historical context and proceeds into an intuition-building description of shock waves and their propagation. The level is appropriate for an advanced undergraduate or graduate course and the ends of the chapters include some homework problems that highlight applications. Each chapter includes an excellent set of references that can only by compiled by an individual with the author’s authority and extensive career in this field; references span many decades and will a gem to both those who are new and veterans of this topic. Another distinguishing feature is the discussion of energetic materials and detonation within the broader context of shock compression. The book has a strong practical experimental component with discussions of the variety of experimental methods and approximate hydrodynamic methods for analysis of experiments. I discovered that this book is available electronically through my institution’s library; pdf versions of the chapters can be downloaded individually making for easy distribution to my group members.

Evan Reed

Assistant Professor, Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Stanford University

The recently published book “Shock Compression of Condensed Matter” by Dr. Jerry Forbes is an excellent comprehensive teaching and research summary of the various fields that apply shock waves to many different types of solids and liquids.

While most teaching texts do not include modern experimental and theoretical techniques and most topical research texts do not contain sufficient background information, this book presents both in a clear, well-organized manner. The author combined lessons learned during several years of teaching shock wave compression courses and many years of state-of-the-art experimental research to create this unique book.

The book begins with a brief history of shock wave research, the practical value of shock waves, and radiographs of shock and detonation waves to illustrate how they actually look. Chapters 2 – 5 present experimental and the basic hydrodynamic and thermodynamic equations used to study one-dimensional shock waves. These topics can easily confuse students, but Dr. Forbes presents all of the material in a very logical way. As they are throughout the book, the problem sets in these four chapters are excellent. They are neither too easy nor too difficult. Chapter 6 begins the discussion of shock waves in solids, and Chapter 7 extends this discussion to conservation equations and time dependent flow. Knowledge of this material is absolutely necessary for all students and workers in this field. This book presents it as well or better than the other shock wave texts.

Chapter 8 begins the application of these concepts to practical problems. First polymorphic and melting phase transitions under shock loading are discussed. Iron and aluminum are perhaps the most completely studied metals so they are used as examples. Chapters 9 and 10 deal with liquid and solid explosive shock initiation and detonation. These chapters contain both the basic experimental and theoretical understanding of condensed phase explosives plus up-to-date discussions of modern experimental techniques, such as embedded gauges and laser interferometric techniques, and modern reactive flow computer models for predicting shock initiation and detonation properties. This straight-forward integration of basic and advanced experimental plus theoretical research on energetic materials is unique. Chapter 11 discusses several special topics, including spallation and radiation driven shocks. Finally there are six Appendices to aid the student in understanding the basics of shock compression.

Dr. Forbes has developed a book that is invaluable to both students and seasoned researchers in the field of “Shock Wave Compression of Condensed Matter.”

Craig M. Tarver

Energetic Materials Center
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Livermore, CA 94551 USA