Experimental investigation of the mechanical properties of brain simulants used for cranial gunshot simulation

Milad Soltanipour Lazarjan, Patrick Henry Geoghegan, Mark Christopher Jermy*, Michael Taylor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The mechanical properties of the human brain at high strain rate were investigated to analyse the mechanisms that cause backspatter when a cranial gunshot wound occurs. Different concentrations of gelatine and a new material (M1) developed in this work were tested and compared to bovine brain samples. Kinetic energy absorption and expansion rate of the samples caused by the impact of a bullet from .22 air rifle (AR) (average velocity (uav) of 290m/s) and .22 long rifle (LR) (average velocity (uav) of 330m/s) were analysed using a high speed camera (24,000fps). The AR projectile had, in the region of interest, an average kinetic energy (Ek) of 42±1.3J. On average, the bovine brain absorbed 50±5% of Ek, and the simulants 46-58±5%. The Ek of the .22 LR was 141±3.7J. The bovine brain absorbed 27% of the .22LR Ek and the simulants 15-29%. The expansion of the sample, after penetration, was measured. The bovine brain experienced significant plastic deformation whereas the gelatine solution exhibited a principally elastic response. The permanent damage patterns in the M1 material were much closer to those in brain tissue, than were the damage patterns in the gelatine. The results provide a first step to developing a realistic experimental simulant for the human brain which can produce the same blood backspatter patterns as a human brain during a cranial gunshot. These results can also be used to improve the 3D models of human heads used in car crash and blast trauma injury research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-78
Number of pages6
JournalForensic Science International
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014


  • Backspatter
  • Bloodstain pattern analysis
  • Brain simulant
  • Cranial gunshot
  • Kinetic energy loss


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