Printer Friendly
The Free Library
22,725,466 articles and books

Toughing it out.

Step aside diamonds, there's a tougher material in town. Using computer simulations, researchers have found two minerals that beat diamond as nature's hardest substance: wurtzite boron nitride and lonsdaleite.

Like diamonds, these materials are crystalline solids (solids whose atoms, or smallest unit of an element, are arranged in a regular repeating pattern). When wurtzite boron nitride and lonsdaleite are compressed, the bonds between atoms malting up the minerals' crystals change their orientation. This transforms the minerals into superhard structures, allowing them to withstand greater pressures than diamonds can.

The only drawback to these materials is that they are rare in nature: wurtzite boron nitride is formed in volcanoes, and lonsdaleite is the result of meteorites crashing into Earth. So, diamonds may reign supreme a while longer.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

STRENGTH OF WORLD'S HARDEST MATERIALS

Scientists measure a material's hardness in gigapascals, a unit of pressure (force applied over an area), How much stronger is lonsdaleite than wurtzite boron nitride? Than diamond?

[GRAPHIC OMITTED]

COPYRIGHT 2009 Scholastic, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

 Reader Opinion

Title:

Comment:



 

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:GRAPH IT/MINERALS; on wurtzite boron nitride and lonsdaleite
Author:Hamalainen, Karina
Publication:Science World
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 11, 2009
Words:162
Previous Article:Sweet remedy.
Next Article:Australia ablaze.
Topics:



Related Articles
Unusual tubes emerge from boron nitride.
Walter acquires PCD/CBN toolmaker.
High feed end mill.
PVD for tooling strength, toughness.
Kennametal buys three cutting tool businesses.
Diamond loses title of "world's hardest material".

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters