Diamond Like Materials: 6 Industrial Materials Resembling Diamonds

Diamond has been the hardest material known since ancient times. Such that it took its name with reference to its hardness. Diamonds are still being used widely in the industry today. However, with the developing technology, new materials started to be discovered harder and more durable than diamonds. We can call these materials, which are getting integrated into industrial applications, diamond-like materials. Any idea what are those?

There are 6 diamond-like materials, which are technically harder than diamonds, as well as can be used in industrial fields. These materials include Buckypaper, graphene, Dyneema, silicon carbide, metallic glasses, and boron nitride. Let’s get to know those diamond-like materials better.

Diamond Like Materials #1: Buckypaper

Paper made of carbon nanotubes produced at Florida State University seems to take the title of the world’s strongest material. Carbon nanotubes, which are used in a wide range from cancer treatment to the manufacture of advanced electronic devices, will appear in more areas in the next ten years. Especially since they are used to make paper that is 10 times lighter than steel but 500 times stronger.

Developed by the High-Performance Materials Institute affiliated with Florida State University, the paper (Buckypaper) that looks very weak with its thin, filmy appearance makes a big claim about being the durable material of the future, thanks to carbon nanotubes that provide 500 times stronger structure than steel.

Produced using carbon nanotubes, which are 50,000 times thinner than human hair, the paper is expected to be used primarily for the production of light, energy-efficient airplanes, and automobiles, with its lightness and strength. Stating that the paper can be developed for products such as more powerful computers and improved television screens, research assistant Ben Wang underlines that if the invention goes into mass production, it will create a great revolution, especially in the aviation industry.

Carbon nanotubes are currently used in small quantities in reinforcing products that are common in everyday life, such as tennis rackets and bicycles. Carbon nanotubes, which are used between 1 and 5% in these products, ensure that these products are quite durable, although they are used in low quantities. The rate of carbon nanotubes used in the production of paper called Buckypaper is stated as 50%.

Florida State University researchers who developed the product state that the biggest obstacle to the use of paper is that the nanotubes form clumps at the corners of the resulting final product, making it nearly impossible to shape and assemble.

Diamond Like Materials #2: Graphene

Graphene is the form of carbon in which carbon atoms are arranged hexagonally and consist of two-dimensional surfaces. Although it is very light, it has a structure 200 times stronger than steel. It conducts electricity very well. It can be used in many products due to its flexible structure. As a single-atom-thick, 2-dimensional nanomaterial, it is shown as one of the most critical components of nanotechnology.

Graphene is fairly new material. It was first obtained in 2004. The 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to the inventors of graphene, Andrei Geim, and Konstantin Novoselov. These two scientists obtained graphene from the graphite in pencil and conducted various experiments on the potential of graphene, pointing out that graphene is a miraculous material.

It can be used in many different industrial areas with its strength, flexibility, thermal and electrical conductivity properties. It is used in sensors, electronic devices, semiconductors, transistors, aerospace, power generation, electrochemistry, health products, batteries, building materials, the automotive industry, coatings, and composites. Scientists are working around the world for new uses of graphene.

Graphene is a material that can provide 100 times more impact than steel due to the strength it carries. Graphene, which has carbon in its origin, can also be used in the production of electrical energy. It has even been found that cement containing graphene is more durable. So what is graphene?

Graphene is a single-layer material in which carbon atoms are bonded to each other to form a hexagon. One of the most important properties of graphene is that it is very strong. So much so that graphene layers are 100 times stronger than steel of the same thickness. The new method, in which electrical energy is used, allows production both much faster and at a much lower cost than other methods currently used to produce graphene. In the new method, it is possible to use any material containing carbon, such as waste food or plastics, as a raw material.

It is known that global climate change, one of the most important environmental problems of our age, is caused by the increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as a result of human activities. The cement industry is the source of 8% of the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere as a result of human activities. By adding a small amount of graphene to cement, it is possible to build more durable structures with less concrete and to trap a high amount of carbon in the concrete, which will be mixed into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide as a result of various processes.

In the past, the biggest obstacle to the production of cement containing graphene was the very cost of producing graphene. However, the new method allows producing graphene both very quickly and at a low cost. Researchers aim to reach the capacity to produce about 1 kilogram of graphene per day by 2022.

Diamond Like Materials #3: Dyneema

Today, considering all the technical fabrics in the industry, none is a Dyneema. This fabric, which has a specific tensile strength 15 times higher than steel and can float in water, has the feature of being the lightest, strongest, and most durable fabric in the world. For 25 years, Dyneema fabrics have been used in various industries to stop bullets, construct buildings and protect people from accidents to meet the needs of offshore, maritime, workshop security, military, and security forces.

Nowadays, Dyneema products are becoming more common in the apparel industry, with the innovative Dyneema Project that will change the way we look at clothes and fabrics. E.g; South Korean outerwear manufacturer “BlakYak” has used Dyneema fabrics in their new emergency jackets. The medium size of these jackets is only 51 grams, innovative ultra-light jackets are expected to hit the shelves soon.

Dyneema fiber has a specific gravity of 0.97 (1 kg/dm^3) for water and is 15 times more durable than steel. It is the strongest chemical fiber we have ever seen in our Natural and Chemical Fibers classes. Also, research shows this. You can easily watch test videos comparing steel on the Internet. It is much stronger than Aramid and Carbon fibers. It is also more flexible in terms of tension. It can be used in any area where strength is needed, it is very durable. Its formula is CH2 CH2, that is, it consists of Carbon and Hydrogen, when it is burned, CO2 and H2O are released.

Dyneema is essentially a polyethylene (PE) fiber. However, it is made into a very strong fiber with special production techniques. In fact, in a comparison based on unit weight, it is stated that it has a breaking strength 15 times higher than quality steel, 5 times higher than polyamide fiber, and 1.5 times higher than aramid fiber. It has a low density causing it to be lighter than water. It provides maximum resistance against humidity and seawater.

In addition to these, its ultraviolet (U.V.) and chemical resistance are far superior to other synthetic fibers. The fact that the elongation at break (5%) and flexibility are low, creating a constant mesh size, reveals its high performance. Therefore, the application areas are almost unlimited. Production processes were taken under trade patents.

Dyneema is an important material for fishing, marine, and offshore applications, as a very important component for all kinds of rope, rope, cable, and composite sheet as well as for fishing nets. With its very thin, light, and strong structure, it is at the service of the metal industry with protective gloves, in some sports activities, and in the medical sector with surgical thread and implant applications. It also finds its place in the military field with its performance in bulletproof vests and armor production. Today, many political leaders use bulletproof vests made of Dyneema fiber.

Diamond Like Materials #4: Silicon Carbide

Silicon carbide is one of the most widely used structural ceramics. Since the 1970s, many new applications have been found. With its many properties, in complex engineering shapes, silicon carbide (SiC) has come to be used as an attractive wear resistance applicator instead of tungsten carbide. Compared to silicon nitride, the raw materials used to produce silicon carbide are cheaper and competitive conditions are high as the costs in the resulting products are lower than that of tungsten carbide.

Silicon carbide, which is in the class of carbide compounds, has an atomic weight of 40.1 g/mol and a density of 3.21 g/cm3. Silicon carbide is also referred to as “SiC” for short. Although it is not found as a compound in nature, its main components, silicon, and carbon are quite abundant. This material is a very hard, abrasive material with high creep strength. It exhibits excellent resistance to erosion and chemical interactions in a reducing atmosphere.

SiC exhibits tremendous thermal shock resistance. Thermal conductivity is affected by the presence of dissolved impurities in the crystalline structure. It is difficult to obtain high purity commercial silicon carbide because impurities added for sintering or impurities in the silicon used in reaction bonding prevent this. Sintered silicon carbide is one of the most durable ceramic materials. The limitation of strength is due to crystallite agglomerates, overgrowth, elongated grains, and defects such as porosity.

One of the properties that enabled the commercialization of silicon carbide is its hardness. When Achosan discovered the hardness of silicon carbide, he mentioned an ability that could cut even a diamond. Even if this is an understatement, silicon carbide is one of the most effective abrasives. It is not as hard as boron carbide, but silicon carbide exhibits a crustal composition and is effective in material stripping.

The hardness of silicon carbide varies depending on the crystallographic directions, the impurities present, and different conditions such as polished surfaces. Even the measuring environment can affect the hardness. Silicon carbide is said to be a precious gemstone. In a very wide color distribution; It can be prepared colorless (pure a/hexagonal), yellow (p/cubic), green (nitrogen or phosphorus dipped), blue (aluminum dipped), brown (boron dipped), and black (heavily aluminum dipped).

Diamond Like Materials #5: Metallic Glasses

The main difference of these materials, which are said to be the next most important material science product after plastics, from metal alloys (mixtures containing different metals) is their irregular structure. Unlike crystalline solids, where the atoms are in periodically repeating positions, the atoms in metallic glasses are irregularly distributed, like those in glass with which we are familiar in everyday life.

Because metallic glasses contain metal atoms, they are conductive rather than insulating like glasses. Also, when heated, they become easily workable and moldable. It is even possible for them to be blown into shape like ordinary glass. On average three times stronger and harder than ordinary metals, these materials are among the strongest known.

Metallic glasses can be produced by several different methods. The simplest of these methods is the very rapid cooling method, which is also used in the production of ordinary glasses. Metallic glasses can be produced by cooling some metal alloys very quickly after melting. Very rapid cooling is particularly necessary to prevent the formation of ordered crystalline structures.

The first metallic glass was developed in 1960 by W. Klement, R. H. Willens, and P. Duwez of the California Institute of Technology. To obtain metallic glass from an alloy containing 75% gold and 25% silicon, cooling had to be done at a rate of one Megakelvin (one million kelvin) per second. As a natural consequence of this situation, one dimension of the material had to be very thin in order to produce metallic glasses. Therefore, the thickness of the first metallic glasses produced during this period was less than one hundred micrometers (ten thousandths of a meter).

By the 1990s, metal alloys that could be produced with a cooling rate of only 1 kelvin per second began to be developed. Since it is possible to achieve these cooling rates even in metal molds, metallic glasses with a thickness of several centimeters began to be produced in this period. The best alloys used to produce metallic glass are those containing zirconium and palladium. In addition, metallic glasses can be produced from alloys containing iron, titanium, copper, magnesium, and other metals.

Although metallic glasses have many good properties, they are mostly used in high-priced special products such as expensive wristwatches, medical implants, or professional tennis rackets. The most important reason for this situation is the very high production cost of metallic glasses.

Diamond Like Materials #6: Boron Nitride

Boron Nitride is a compound formed by boron and nitrogen elements, its chemical formula is BN, and produced by chemical methods. Boron nitride is a synthetic material with superior properties such as high thermal shock resistance, thermal conductivity, electrical insulation, chemical stability, and lubrication. Two different crystal forms of boron nitride are used. These are hexagonal and cubic boron nitrides.

Hexagonal boron Nitride is a material with superior properties such as refractory property at high temperatures, high thermal shock resistance, high thermal conductivity, electrical insulation, chemical stability, lubricity, and easy workability. Because of these properties, it is used in metallurgy applications requiring high-temperature resistance, as a lubricant in high-temperature molds, and in the electrical-electronics industry as an insulator material.

Cubic boron nitride is the hardest known material after diamond. Due to this feature, it is used in the cutting and processing of hard materials, and also in cutting and etching processes at high temperatures due to its high thermal conductivity. Turkey is the biggest reserve source of boron in the world, with the number of studies on it increasing day by day and its usage area expanding. One of the most important boron products, which has unique characteristics and provides advantages in the areas where it is used, is boron nitride, which is a compound of boron and nitrogen atoms.

Since boron and nitrogen are each located on either side of carbon in the periodic table, the compound of these elements is isoelectronic with carbon. In other words, the boron and nitrogen bonding has the same number of electrons as in the carbon-carbon formation. Boron nitride compounds have the same crystal structures as the polymorphs of carbon and their properties vary according to the crystal structure they have. The two most widely known forms are cubic and hexagonal boron nitride.

Cubic boron nitride (c-BN) is the hardest material after diamond in nature and is also called ‘artificial diamond’ and replaces diamond, which is used as a cutting and abrasive material today. Unlike diamond, it is resistant to high temperatures and its structure does not deteriorate up to 1370°C. Thanks to its high thermal and chemical resistance, its usage area is expanding day by day. Hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) is called ‘white graphite’ because its crystal structure is layered and white in color similar to graphite.

In hexagonal boron nitride, there are strong covalent bonds between boron and nitrogen atoms, and weak Wan der Waals bonds between plates. It is the lowest density (2.27 g/cm3) of h-BN ceramic materials, which can maintain its stability up to 1000°C in an air environment and 2800°C in an inert gas environment. It is used as a refractory material due to its properties such as being resistant to high temperatures, high oxidation resistance, and non-wetting. Another usage area is high-temperature lubrication applications due to its lubricating properties and high-temperature stability.

Cubic boron nitride is similar to diamond in terms of its crystal structure and other properties. Pure cubic boron nitride is colorless and a good electrical insulator. Cubic boron nitride c(BN), obtained by hexagonal-cubic lattice transformation with high temperature (1500 0C), high pressure (8 Gpa) techniques, has the second-highest hardness value after diamond.

It is used in cutting tools due to its very high thermal conductivity. Unlike diamond, it has a high thermal resistance and is resistant to very high temperatures (up to 1370°C). The most important advantage of cubic boron nitride compared to diamond is its very high stability in contact with iron or other metals or at high temperatures in the air. Polycrystalline cubic boron nitride has been in industrial use for the last few years.

Combined with its reaction resistance and excellent abrasive resistance with Ferro materials, c(BN) is used for machining hard materials at higher temperatures and higher speeds than other tool materials. It is used for machining hardened steel. Boron nitride cutting tools are suitable for very high-speed machining without the use of liquids during machining. It is used as a cutting tool and abrasive at high temperatures. It is used in the processing of parts produced by casting and forging due to its high resistance to mechanical shocks.

Used as an abrasive material (used for grinding ferrous metals by adding small crystals into abrasive discs). Due to its high hardness and resistance to high temperatures, parts made of cubic boron nitride have high strength and long life. In addition, its high thermal conductivity is an advantage in that the heat generated during use as an abrasive disc can be easily removed. It is used for grinding, machining, and polishing iron-based materials harder than 50 HRc and cobalt and nickel-based materials with a hardness higher than 35 HRc.

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