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  1. Abstract

    The ballistic performance of edge-clamped monolithic polyimide aerogel blocks (12 mm thickness) has been studied through a series of impact tests using a helium-filled gas gun connected to a vacuum chamber and a spherical steel projectile (approximately 3 mm diameter) with an impact velocity range of 150–1300 m s−1. The aerogels had an average bulk density of 0.17 g cm−3with high porosity of approximately 88%. The ballistic limit velocity of the aerogels was estimated to be in the range of 175–179 m s−1. Moreover, the aerogels showed a robust ballistic energy absorption performance (e.g., at the impact velocity of 1283 m s−1at least 18% of the impact energy was absorbed). At low impact velocities, the aerogels failed by ductile hole enlargement followed by a tensile failure. By contrast, at high impact velocities, the aerogels failed through an adiabatic shearing process. Given the substantially robust ballistic performance, the polyimide aerogels have a potential to combat multiple constraints such as cost, weight, and volume restrictions in aeronautical and aerospace applications with high blast resistance and ballistic performance requirements such as in stuffed Whipple shields for orbital debris containment application.