Superhard material knocks off diamond's crown


DIAMOND’s crown has well and truly slipped. The “world’s hardest material” arguably lost its title a while ago to tough nanomaterials. Now a substance sometimes found in nature may beat them all – at 58 per cent harder than diamond. Zicheng Pan at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China and colleagues simulated how atoms in two materials respond when a fine-tipped probe pushes at them. The first, wurtzite boron nitride, is similar in structure to diamond but made of boron and nitrogen. The second, lonsdaleite,
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