ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What Is Lonsdaleite? Is There Anything Harder than a Diamond?

Updated on July 6, 2016

Diamonds

Diamonds are the world's most coveted gemstone, with a long history tracing back as 6,000 years. Diamonds rank a 10, the highest possible ranking on Moh's Scale of Hardness. Diamonds are highly prized not only as gemstones but for use in industrial drills. It was widely believed by mankind to be the hardest substance on Earth. First, scientists have discovered how to manipulate molecules within certain substances that allow for a super compact atom arrangement, the result being a material harder than Diamonds. And then in 2009 scientists discovered that lonsdaleite, a naturally occurring mineral found in meteorites was harder than diamonds. It appears that diamonds have now relinquished its throne as Earth's hardest mineral.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
An Industrial drill, a market for which wurtzite has many applications.The crystal structure of wurzite
An Industrial drill, a market for which wurtzite has many applications.
An Industrial drill, a market for which wurtzite has many applications.
The crystal structure of wurzite
The crystal structure of wurzite

Wurtzite Boron Nitride

Wurtzite in nature is not nearly as hard as diamonds. This is due to the impurities within the mineral. In order to become harder than diamonds, wurtzite boron nitride has to be synthesized in a laboratory. Wurtzite boron nitride is more stable in oxygen at higher temperatures than diamond. This makes it ideal to place on the tips of cutting and drilling tools operating at high temperatures, or as a protective cover on the surface of a space vehicle.

Ironically wurtzite boron nitride's hardness seems to come from the flexibility of the bonds between the atoms it is made out of. When the substance is put under pressure, the bonds bend by about 90ยบ to relieve the tension. Although diamond reacts similarly, something about the structure of wurtzite boron nitride makes it nearly 80% stronger after the process takes place.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Lonsdaleite crystals are very rare and small.A meteorite craterLonsdaleite Crystal structureLarger diagram of lonsadleite crystal structure
Lonsdaleite crystals are very rare and small.
Lonsdaleite crystals are very rare and small.
A meteorite crater
A meteorite crater
Lonsdaleite Crystal structure
Lonsdaleite Crystal structure
Larger diagram of lonsadleite crystal structure
Larger diagram of lonsadleite crystal structure

Lonsdaleite

To quote the famous astronomer Carl Sagan, "the beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it, but the way those atoms are put together." Well not exactly a living thing I am sure Carl would agree with me that the way atoms in lonsdaleite are put toghether is truly why this substance is so remarkable.

Lonsdaleite, diamonds, and for that matter, charcoal and graphite, are all composed of element carbon. But the structure of the Carbon atoms differs as lonsdaleite forms hexagonal patterns, earning the name hexagonal diamond. Scientists estimate that lonsdaleite is 58% stronger than diamond. Lonsdaleite is extremely rare and forms when meteorites of graphite hit the Earth's atmosphere and subjected to immense heat and pressure.

Its the Way They are Put Together

Marilyn Monroe performing "Diamonds Are a Girls Best Friend" in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes." (1953)
Marilyn Monroe performing "Diamonds Are a Girls Best Friend" in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes." (1953)

Diamonds Are Still More Pretty

Don't worry diamond lovers, diamonds are still more highly sought after for jewelry than boron nitride and lonsdaleite. Both wurtzite boron nitride and lonsadleite are extremely rare both in the lab and in nature. So it will be long time before diamonds are dethroned as Earth's favorite gemstone.

Marilyn Monroe once said, "Diamonds are a girls best friend." It seems that being the hardest known material in the world may help grind down titanium alloy, but does not necessarily make the one you love to say, "I do." Or maybe it will?

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Richard Fernandez profile imageAUTHOR

      Richard Fernandez 

      7 years ago from Detroit, MI

      Tell that to Humpty Dumpty lol.

    • Five One Cows profile image

      Five One Cows 

      7 years ago from Moo Town

      Since this is a question, I'll answer it. My head is harder then a diamond, or at least that is what I've been told countless times over the years.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)