When we think of the toughest naturally-occurring material on Earth, we think of diamonds.
These pretty materials on our engagement rings can cut rock and steel. Over past years, however, scientists have been improving their hardness, and now a team of Australian researchers has created a rare type of diamond that is even tougher than regular diamonds.
The upgraded diamond is a version of Lonsdaleite that has been discovered occurring naturally at the center of some meteorite impact sites worldwide. Lonsdaleite was first discovered in 1967 in the Canyon Diablo meteorite site. The diamond is special because it is made up of carbon in a hexagonal lattice, while most diamonds are made up of carbon in a cubic lattice. This makes the new diamond about 58% harder than a regular diamond, according to Science Alert.
Researchers were now able to make a nano-scale version of Lonsdaleite in the laboratory, and they predict that it is even tougher than the naturally-occurring diamond. In fact, it is so hard that the team suggests that its immediate use will be in mines, where it can cut through ultra-solid materials, even regular diamonds. The research was published in Scientific Reports.