Tough to beat

Boron suboxide may be the new second hardest material

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

-- Diamond is still the hardest material known to us but now there is a close race for the second position. Researchers from the US-based Los Alamos National Laboratory have claimed that boron suboxide and not cubic boron nitride is the second hardest material. Boron suboxide is a compound of boron and oxygen. If the claim proves to be true, the compound may find applications in drilling and other industries. Though diamond bits are considered the best by the drilling industry, they cannot cut through steel because diamond dissolves in hot iron. For these purposes cubic boron nitride bits are used. The researchers claim that boron suboxide is twice as tough as cubic boron nitride. What is more, it can be made at much lower pressures than cubic boron nitride and hence could be much cheaper and easier to be commercially manufactured.

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