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02/19/2009 05:21 AM ID: 77114 Permalink   

Rare Material Found to be 58% Harder than Diamond

 

While diamond lost the title of "hardest material" to man-made nanomaterials years ago, a rare naturally occurring mineral called lonsdaleite may surpass both. Like diamond, lonsdaleite is comprised of carbon atoms but arranged differently.

Lonsdaleite is extremely rare and is naturally formed when meteorites containing graphite slam into the Earth. Through simulations it was demonstrated that lonsdaleite may be 58% harder than diamond, making it harder than any measured substance.

The simulation also tested wurtzite boron nitride - another rare material formed during volcanic eruptions - which may be 18% stronger than diamond. Until single crystals of both materials are grown or isolated, their hardness cannot be confirmed.

 
  Source: www.newscientist.com  
    WebReporter: vash_the_stampede Show Calling Card      
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  6 Comments
  
  Interesting stuff...  
 
Carbon is an extremely versatile substance and it just gets more and more interesting when I read about natually occuring forms such as these. I was trying to find some examples that I could share, so I pulled these off of Wikipedia:

Synthetic diamond nanorods are the hardest materials known. (not any more apparently, but close)

Graphite is one of the softest materials known.

Diamond is the ultimate abrasive.

Graphite is a very good lubricant.

Diamond is an excellent electrical insulator.

Graphite is a conductor of electricity.

Diamond is the best known naturally occurring thermal conductor

Some forms of graphite are used for thermal insulation (i.e. firebreaks and heatshields)

Diamond is highly transparent.

Graphite is opaque.

Diamond crystallizes in the cubic system.

Graphite crystallizes in the hexagonal system.

Amorphous carbon is completely isotropic.

Carbon nanotubes are among the most anisotropic materials ever produced.

Great article Vash!
 
  by: captainchainsaw   02/19/2009 05:48 AM     
  The thing is...  
 
such hard materials are impossible to shape!
 
  by: H. W. Hutchins   02/19/2009 07:39 AM     
  Lonsdaleite  
 
...please tell me that's not based on the name Lonsdale as in boxing.....you know being well 'ard an that!
 
  by: ozric   02/19/2009 05:35 PM     
  My money's on diamondium  
 
...or diamondillium. I'd like to see the beat with a billion backs try to smash through lonsdaleite.
 
  by: Mr. Wright     02/19/2009 10:59 PM     
  @me  
 
beast*
not beat
 
  by: Mr. Wright     02/19/2009 11:00 PM     
  Who's Lons, and what does he/she bake?  
 
Lon's delight sounds tasty.
 
  by: redstain   02/21/2009 04:16 AM     
 
 
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