Diamonds are immensely useful in drilling and grinding. This is because they are the hardest substances known to us. Now, a new compound developed by scientists at the Institute of Superhard Materials, Ukraine, could give diamonds tough competition. The new material, cubic boron carbonitride, is almost as hard as synthetic diamond and may be cheaper to make. Cubic boron nitride, a similar compound, has been used in place of diamonds in certain applications since 1956. Boron carbonitrides are also well known but they exist in the softer forms, just like carbon exists as graphite as well as diamond. Scientists in Ukraine squeezed the soft boron carbonitrides at pressures that were ten times those needed to make synthetic diamond. The result was a new form of boron carbonitride in which the atoms are arranged in the same manner as diamond (Applied Physics Letters , Vol 78, p1385).
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.