Materials Science


What is the hardest material that has been discovered?

At some point you may have heard that diamond is the hardest material known to humankind. While diamond is extremely hard, there are actually a few materials that are even harder still! Years ago, some synthetically produced nanomaterials were discovered that are even harder than diamonds. Even more recently, two additional naturally occurring materials, both of which are even harder yet, were discovered. These materials are wurtzite boron nitride and a mineral called lonsdaleite. Wurtzite boron nitride has its atoms arranged in a very similar structure to the arrangement in diamond, but they are just different atoms (boron and nitrogen, rather than carbon). The other material, lonsdaleite, is actually also made from carbon atoms, but these are arranged dif ferently from those of diamond. Lonsdaleite is also sometimes called hexagonal diamond and can be formed when meteorites, which contain graphite, hit the Earth at very high speeds. Wurtzite boron nitride is produced naturally at high temperatures and pressures during volcanic eruptions. To date, there are only small amounts of either of these materials that have ever been found or synthesized.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Chemistry Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App