Is Lonsdaleite harder than diamond
Theoretical world record: Significantly harder than diamond
"Here we reveal the deformation mechanism in two stages, which is responsible for the fact that wurtzite boronide shows a surprising hardness," writes the team led by Zicheng Pan and Hong Sun in the journal "Physical Review Letters". "We are also showing that the same mechanism also works in Lonsdaleit and is setting a new record," said the researchers from Shanghai Jiao Tong University and colleagues from the University of Nevada. Diamond gets its hardness from a strong lattice structure of its carbon atoms, which are arranged in an octahedron shape. Lonsdaleit is also called "hexagonal diamond" because of its natural hardness and crystal structure. Wurtzite, a compound of zinc and sulfur, also crystallizes in a hexagonal structure. According to the calculations, under high pressure there is a phase transition in which chemical bonds flip over, but the volume remains unchanged. The new crystal structure provides the unexpected hardness.
In nature, the two materials occur only in extremely small quantities, which are insufficient to test the theory, let alone for industrial use as a diamond substitute. Wurtzite boronide is formed under the extreme pressures and temperatures of volcanic eruptions, Lonsdaleit is found after meteorite impacts, for example in the Siberian Tunguska crater or in the southern German Ries crater. However, the researchers hope to use new production methods - including in the nano range - to produce serious quantities of the minerals in the not too distant future and to test their calculations.
DOI: 10.1103 / PhysRevLett.102.055503
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