What temperatures can nanomaterials withstand?
A new nanomaterial is competing with diamonds
Diamonds are not just "a girl's best friend". The hardest natural material that we know is also in great demand in industry, where it is used as a material for drills and the like. Now French and German researchers have developed a carbon nanomaterial that, according to the scientists, is almost as hard as a diamond. The material made of thermodynamically stable boron nitride is also much more break-proof and has a higher wear resistance than a polycrystalline diamond. The team of researchers from the Universities of Heidelberg, Bayreuth, Paris and Grenoble created the new material by reducing boron nitride grains from micron to nano size. Using a 5,000-ton research press, the boron nitride was then synthesized at high pressures and temperatures. Several boron nitride materials of different grain sizes were then tested using high-resolution transmission electron microscopes, which can characterize the structure of the nanomaterial. This is not the first time that crystalline cubic boron nitride has been considered as a diamond substitute. It can withstand high temperatures - up to 1,650 K (Kelvin) compared to just 950 K of diamonds - and is highly abrasive. As early as the 1950s, the material was used in industrial applications similar to diamonds, for example for the machining of various types of hardened steel. However, the crystalline cubic boron nitride could never completely replace the diamonds because it is only half as hard as a diamond (50 GPa compared to 100 GPa). Although the hardness of the new material developed by the French and German scientists has not yet reached that of a diamond (85 GPa), the researchers are convinced that their development will lead to even harder and more thermally stable materials one day can compete with diamonds.
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