Boron Nitride

Boron Nitride


Boron nitride (BN) is the second hardest substance known to man.


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The synthetic material boron nitride, first produced in 1957, is similar to carbon in that it has several allotropes. In its cubic form (c-BN) it shares the same crystalline structure as diamond, but instead of carbon atoms is made up of alternately-bonded atoms of boron and nitrogen. c-BN is chemically and thermally stable and is commonly used today as a superhard machine tool coating in the automotive and aerospace industries.

But cubic boron nitride is still, at best, just the world's second hardest material with a Vickers hardness of around 50 GPa. Its hexagonal form (w-BN) was initially reported to be even harder but these results were based upon theoretical simulations that predicted an indentation strength 18% higher than diamond. Unfortunately, w-BN is extremely rare in nature and difficult to produce in sufficient quantities to properly test this claim by experiment.


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