There are hundreds of hard materials, but only a few are harder and stronger than diamond or steel. Discover the 5 toughest.
When thinking about the hardest material in the world, Most people think directly of diamonds. And, without a doubt, it is one of the hardest substances on Earth. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that we would be surprised when we discover materials that are more resistant and harder than diamond. But first, What determines the hardness of a material?
If we’re being purist, hardness is determined by atomic and molecular organization of a material. This organization is given by almost infinite number of possible combinations and the specific combination of each material will create your Chemical and physical characteristics.
In this way, Carbon is one of the most unique materials, Because it has only six protons in its nucleus, it is one of the lightest elements. However, carbon is capable of forming a multitude of complex bonds, and the possible geometries of these bonds also allow carbon to combine. A combination of carbon, especially under high pressure, produces a stable crystal lattice. When this happens, under ideal conditions, carbon atoms can eventually become A strong and extremely hard structure called diamond.
With the advent of nanotechnology, we now recognize that There are at least six types of materials They are stronger than diamond, and it is possible that this number will increase with time.
wurtzite: hard as a volcano
Instead of carbon, we can form a crystal with other atoms, one of them being boron nitride (BN). a) yes, fifth and seventh elements of the periodic table Come together to create different possibilities. This compound can be amorphous (not crystalline), hexagonal (similar to graphite), cubic (similar to diamond, but slightly softer), and as wurtzite.
the last of all these methods very strange And it’s very difficult to make. formed during volcanic eruptions, Wurtzite has only been discovered in trace amounts, which means we’ve never been able to test its exact hardness properties on a large scale. However, this creates another type of crystal lattice, a tetrahedral rather than a face-centred cubic one. wurtzite is 18% harder than diamond, According to the latest simulations.
Lonsdaleite: the hardness of the meteorite
Imagine that a meteorite laden with carbon, and therefore graphite, passed through our atmosphere and collided with the Earth. Although you might imagine this meteoroid falling on us as an incredibly hot body, in reality only the outermost layer is that hot. it means that the insides stay cool during most of its journey to Earth.
Now, after effects, internal pressures exceed those of any other natural process on the surface of our planet and this causes graphite to compress A very crystalline structure. However, it does not have a cubic lattice of diamond, but a hexagonal lattice that can reach The hardness is 58% higher than that of diamond.
Dyneema: a fiber tougher than steel
With this material, we will leave behind the terrain of natural materials and We start with synthetic materials. With regard to Dyneema, it should be borne in mind that a thermoplastic polyethylene polymer is unusual in that very high molecular weight. Most of the molecules we know of are chains of atoms with a total of a few thousand atomic mass units (protons and/or neutrons). but UHMWPE (Ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene) has very long chains, with a molecular mass of several million atomic mass units. with these such a long chain for their polymers, The intermolecular interactions are greatly improved, making Dyneema an extremely strong material. What’s more, it is so strong that it has the highest impact resistance of all known thermoplastics to date. It is considered the strongest fiber in the world and outperforms all mooring and towing ropes on the market. Although it is lighter than water, Dyneema can stop bullets and is 15 times stronger than a comparable amount of steel.
amorphous metal alloy or metallic glass (VM)
It is important to recognize that all physical materials have two important properties: strength (the force a substance can withstand) and toughness (the ability to resist fracture). For example, Most ceramics are strong, but not very strong, It can break even if dropped from a slight height. However, in the year 2011, some scientists and researchers developed A new type of micro-alloy glass made of five elements (phosphorus, silicon, germanium, silver and palladium). This new material is stronger than steel.
We know since the end of the 20th century that there is a form of carbon harder than diamond: carbon nanotubes. By adding carbon to the hexagonal shape, it can support a rigid cylindrical shaped structure like this More stable than any other structure known to mankind. Each nanotube is only 2 to 4 nanometers in diameter, and each one is incredibly strong and flexible. weighs only 10% of the weight of steel, But its resistance is hundreds of times higher. It is a fire retardant, extremely conductive on a thermal level, and has very good properties electromagnetic shielding. This material could have applications in materials physics, electronics, the military and even biology.
What are the hardest materials in the world?
There are thousands of materials, but among the hardest we find: Wurtzite, Lonsdaleite, Dyneema, Metallic Glass and Buckypaper
Is diamond the hardest substance in the world?
No, there are many other substances whose hardness is more than that of diamond.