U.S. Department of Defense


Date of this Version



Published in International Journal of Self-Propagating High-Temperature Synthesis, 2008, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 58–75.


In 1967, Merzhanov, Skhiro, and Borovinskaya published the first comprehensive paper describing self-sustaining character of reactions in a condensed phase, which could be utilized for synthesis of many ceramic and intermetallic materials [1]. In this paper, the authors demonstrated the principle of the so called “solid flame” using reactions between transition metals and boron, carbon or nitrogen. The world-wide combustion synthesis community considers this comprehensive paper and subsequent integrated experimental and theoretical research effort conducted in the former Soviet Union as the beginning of a new approach and method of synthesizing advanced high temperature materials. The main research was conducted by many Russian scientists at the Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences in Chernogolovka under the leadership of Professors Merzhanov and Borovinskaya [2–11].
During that period of our history, free exchange of information among scientists from different countries was very limited due to the cold war. The main source of information on research discoveries and accomplishments of Russian scientists available to US and other researchers was through publications in Russian journals or their translated versions. Such as Combustion, Explosion, and Shock Waves, Doklady Academy Nauk SSSR, Soviet Powder Metallurgy of Metals and Ceramics, Inorganic Materials, and Doklady Physical Chemistry were the most searched journals in the area of combustion synthesis. In the early 90s, a new International Journal of Self-Propagating High-Temperature Synthesis was created and it is published quarterly since its inception.
Self-propagating high-temperature synthesis (SHS) also called combustion synthesis (CS) is the exothermic process in which the reaction between two or more solid reactants or gas and condensed reactants takes place in a self-sustaining regime leading to the formation of solid products of a higher value [12–14]. During the past forty years, hundreds of different compounds, including, nitrides, borides, carbides, silicides, sulfides, phosphides, hydrides, and oxides of many elements as well as intermetallics, composites, nonstoichiometric compounds, and solid solutions were successfully synthesized by this method [12–18]. Some materials have been successfully scaled-up and produced by the industry. To this group of materials among others belong: carbides of titanium, zirconium, tungsten, tantalum, boron and silicon, titanium diboride, molybdenum disilicide, aluminum nitride, silicon nitride, nickel aluminides, titanium nickelide, zirconium aluminides, and a number of composites (e.g. TiC–TiB2 and SiC–Si3 N4) or solid solutions such as SIALONs and aluminum oxynitride (ALON).