Hard than diamonds??


Although diamond is currently the undisputed champion of ultrahard materials, research teams around the world are engaged in a battle to find a new contender to topple it from its place; one which is cheaper, more durable, and more easily produced. Once such team, lead by Professor Richard Kaner of UCLA, have targeted transition metal borides as their diamond-killer of choice. Ultrahard materials are useful in many industrial applications, as, for example, abrasives, cutting tools, and coatings. But diamond isn’t always the best tool for the job; the chemical reaction between carbon and iron means that it isn’t suitable for use with ferrous materials, and the high temperature and pressure necessary to produce synthetic diamond can make the manufacturing process prohibitively expensive. In contrast, the materials considered by Prof. Kaner, such as rhenium diboride and tungsten tetraboride, have comparable or greater hardness and stress resistance, but can be potentially be produced at ambient pressure and can be used in a great variety of chemical environments.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 3rd Nov 2009