There is no denying the fact that diamond is a woman’s best friend and an age-old companion. However, changing times have brought another facet to the surface – the much-loved friend has lost its cherished title of the “world’s hardest material”.
Now, that’s not something new. This happened sometime back when human-made nanomaterials became harder than diamonds. But with the ever-evolving time, another discovery of a rare natural substance is all set to leave all the minerals behind in the race of being the hardest in the world. This substance is said to be 58 percent harder than a diamond, and certainly, that’s some news for the diamond lovers.
Formation of these substances
The first competitor of diamond is wurtzite boron nitride which has a structure that’s quite similar to diamond. However, it is made of different atoms. This mineral is formed when volcanic eruptions take place and produce extremely high temperatures and pressures. Wurtzite boron nitride can endure18 percent more stress than a diamond.
Another substance which is giving tough competition to diamond regarding hardness is the rare mineral lonsdaleite. This mineral is formed from carbon atoms similar to a diamond, but these atoms are arranged differently than that of a diamond. Sometimes, this mineral is formed when meteorites which contain graphite, hit the Earth. And lonsdaleite is the substance that is believed to be 58 percent harder than its traditional counterpart, diamond.
When it comes to using these minerals in the world of jewelry and gemstones, it is said that wurtzite boron nitride may prove to be much more useful than lonsdaleite. This is because it is much stable in oxygen at high temperatures. This quality makes it the perfect option for cutting and drilling at high temperatures.
The wonderful characteristic that makes it more flexible than its contemporaries is that wurtzite boron nitride has flexible bonds between the atoms that form it. Under stress and high temperatures, these bonds then re-orientate by over 90 degrees to get the flexibility needed.
Of late, several types of research have found different minerals that are believed to be harder than diamonds. A cubic form of boron nitride is also said to be harder than diamond. However, extensive studies are required to be done in order to really find the right substances that can beat diamonds in terms of hardness and durability. Till then, diamonds will continue to conquer the world.