A method of preparing energetic metal-oxide-based energetic materials using sol-gel chemistry has been invented. The wet chemical sol-gel processing provides an improvement in both safety and performance. Essentially, a metal-oxide oxidizer skeletal structure is prepared from hydrolyzable metals (metal salts or metal alkoxides) with fuel added to the sol prior to gelation or synthesized within the porosity metal-oxide gel matrix. With metal salt precursors a proton scavenger is used to destabilize the sol and induce gelation. With metal alkoxide precursors standard well-known sol-gel hydrolysis and condensation reactions are used. Drying is done by standard sol-gel practices, either by a slow evaporation of the liquid residing within the pores to produce a high density solid nanocomposite, or by supercritical extraction to produce a lower density, high porous nanocomposite. Other ingredients may be added to this basic nanostructure to change physical and chemical properties, which include organic constituents for binders or gas generators during reactions, burn rate modifiers, or spectral emitters.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.