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Easy-to-Make Material Scratches Diamond 213

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the mohs-hardness-scale-so-hosed dept.
holy_calamity writes "A material tough enough to scratch diamond that can be made without resorting to massive pressure has been developed at UCLA. A regular furnace and a zap of current is enough to meld boron with the metal rhenium." Sound familiar? This is the other new material tougher than diamond, but no word yet on how they rate against each other.
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Easy-to-Make Material Scratches Diamond

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  • Adamantium (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    It's about time!

    Now how is the skeletal bonding programing doing?
  • Stiffer, not harder (Score:5, Informative)

    by caramelcarrot (778148) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @10:24AM (#18823545)
    The old material was stiffer, not harder, than diamond. It could still be scratched by diamond.
  • by Spazntwich (208070) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @10:25AM (#18823547)
    That's a funny way to spell dolemite.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      ...cuz dolemite [wikipedia.org] is the hardest thing in history YO!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by SurturZ (54334)
      If it can scratch diamond, then it must be chucknorrisite.
  • Price (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 21, 2007 @10:26AM (#18823555)
    Rhenium is very expensive. Pure boron isn't cheap either. This stuff could end up costing as much as diamond.
    • by Tom Womack (8005) <tom@womack.net> on Saturday April 21, 2007 @02:33PM (#18825439) Homepage
      Rhenium costs £6.50 per gram if you want to buy it on ebay; boron is £13.50 a gram on ebay because the one seller there is selling an exotic crystalline form. [ebay search for 'rhenium metal' or 'boron element']

      So making ReB2 using source materials bought in small quantities on ebay would be about ten pounds (about twenty dollars) a gram; probably the cost of the electricity to run the furnace would be more than that, and the depreciation on the furnace more still.

      I paid ten Euros (about fifteen dollars) for the diamond sample I have, which is two milligrams, and various diamond-industry sites give prices on the order of a hundred thousand dollars per gram; of course, rather like microchips, diamond pricing is exponential in the size because you have to find one big diamond rather than gluing two small ones together.

      But ReB2 will be competing with diamond abrasive, and http://www.diamondtech.com/products/categories/dia mond_powder_price_list.html [diamondtech.com] will sell you twenty grams (a hundred carats) of half-micron diamond dust for fifty dollars which is a lot cheaper than either the rhenium or the boron.

      http://www.metalprices.com/FreeSite/metals/re/re.a sp [metalprices.com] suggests that bulk rhenium is $3000 per pound, which is a bit over half the ebay price above; some sites, I think mostly run by gold bugs, suggest $6000 per troy ounce, so either there's an opportunity for arbitrage, or they've confused rhenium and rhodium.

      The not-so-trustworthy-looking http://biotsavart.tripod.com/bmt.htm [tripod.com] has boron at about $5000 per kilogram, so $2200 per pound; still these are orders of magnitude cheaper than diamond.
    • Re:Price (Score:5, Insightful)

      by asuffield (111848) <asuffield@suffields.me.uk> on Saturday April 21, 2007 @04:52PM (#18826173)

      Rhenium is very expensive. Pure boron isn't cheap either. This stuff could end up costing as much as diamond.


      Almost anything useful costs more than diamond. Of the materials used in industry today, diamond falls firmly into the "common and cheap" section. Subject anything with carbon in it to the temperatures and pressures common in geology, and you end up with diamond in it somewhere.

      Those prices you see in jewellers? They are on the order of a thousand times larger than the actual value of diamond. Some of that pays for the expertise to cut diamonds into decorative shapes (which isn't easy), most of it is just an insanely huge markup.

      We don't have a need for cheaper alternatives to diamond - it would be like searching for a cheaper alternative to sea water. Most likely the whole diamond angle is just a bogus press spin on the story.
      • comparing diamonds in jewellery to industrial diamonds is like comparing Whitby Jet to coal, or a 17 foot block of Carrara marble to a sack of chalk pebbles.
  • Nice. (Score:5, Funny)

    by EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @10:28AM (#18823565)
    In the unlikely event that my sworn enemy is wearing a suit of diamond armor, I can now SLOWLY scratch him to death.

    Sweet.

  • IMPOSSIBLE! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 21, 2007 @10:28AM (#18823569)
    Diamond is one of the hardest (if not THE hardest) metals known to man!

    Due to extensive research done by the Fourchon University of Science, diamond has been confirmed as the the hardest metal known the man. The research is as follows.

    Pocket-protected scientists built a wall of iron and crashed a diamond car into it at 400 miles per hour, and the car was unharmed.

    They then built a wall out of diamond and crashed a car made of iron moving at 400 miles an out into the wall, and the wall came out fine.

    They then crashed a diamond car made of 400 miles per hour into a wall, and there were no survivors.

    They crashed 400 miles per hour into a diamond traveling at iron car. Western New York was powerless for hours.

    They rammed a wall of metal into a 400 mile per hour made of diamond, and the resulting explosion shifted the earth's orbit 400 million miles away from the sun, saving the earth from a meteor the size of a small Washington suburb that was hurtling towards midwestern Prussia at 400 billion miles per hour.

    They shot a diamond made of iron at a car moving at 400 walls per hour, and as a result caused two wayward airplanes to lose track of their bearings, and make a fatal crash with two buildings in downtown New York.

    They spun 400 miles at diamond into iron per wall. The results were inconclusive.

    Finally, they placed 400 diamonds per hour in front of a car made of wall traveling at miles, and the result proved without a doubt that diamonds were the hardest metal of all time, if not just the hardest metal known the man.
  • by failedlogic (627314) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @10:28AM (#18823571)
    In my last marriage, my ex-'s ring didn't last very long. Six-months to be exact - so diamonds aren't forever. If this new substance can ensure the santity of marriage, I'm all for it!
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @10:28AM (#18823573) Homepage

    A regular furnace and a zap of current is enough to meld boron with the metal rhenium....Sound familiar?

    If this sounds familiar you need to get out more. Seriously.

  • by Eudial (590661) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @10:31AM (#18823601)
    When keying someone's car isn't enough to say I hate you, make a key out of this material and key their jewelery.
  • by tumutbound (549414) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @10:35AM (#18823615)
    rhenium diboride is a girls best friend
    • by inviolet (797804) <slashdot@ideasmat[ ].org ['ter' in gap]> on Saturday April 21, 2007 @01:33PM (#18825011) Journal

      rhenium diboride is a girls best friend

      You laugh, but as a female geek I would be Seriously Impressed by a marriage proposal which featured a ring made from something exotic like that. Assuming that I was sufficiently insane to consent to marriage, I would forever after wear that ring and smirk at the Normals with their plain old diamonds.

      • The female geek who for some reason married me insists that any future jewelry be something other than a mined diamond. Preferably something created with human skill and science.
  • Much energy was spent in the comments to the older story (linked from this one) to make clear that it is about "harder", not "tougher". What does CowboyNeal do? Repeat the same mistake twice in the new story. Can CowboyNeal be fired?
  • by Dr. Stavros (808432) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @11:01AM (#18823787) Homepage

    Again, we mustn't conflate hardness, stiffness, and toughness!

    I've been studying diamond for a while now, and have a fairly prominent webpage about diamond's material properties [sque.co.uk], and on three separate occasions I have been contacted in the following way:

    A budding fantasy author is writing a book in which the protagonist has a sword made out of diamond, "because diamond is the hardest material of all!", and they wanted to run the idea past me first.

    So I point out that, despite being very hard (i.e. resistant to indentation), diamond is in fact very brittle (i.e. not very tough), and indeed the very first time that our hero hits something with his diamond sword, it will shatter.

    In one case, the author said that I had basically ruined his life by wrecking the whole concept of the book that he had been writing for the last few years. In subsequent emails, he was begging me to come up with a solution (e.g. diamond sword, coated with steel, etc.?)...

    • Tell him he fails at life and should kill himself now.

      He's a fantasy writer, I'm not. It's fantasy. White gold has magical properties. Make the sword out of white gold and shut the fuck up.
      • by inviolet (797804)

        He's a fantasy writer, I'm not. It's fantasy. White gold has magical properties. Make the sword out of white gold and shut the fuck up.

        Actually, "white gold" is gold mixed with silver. In D&D it is called electrum.

        Why not a steel sword with a segmented, diamond-coated edge? I mean hey, it works great for modern-day sawblades...

        • The GP is probably referring to Stephen R. Donaldson Thomas Covenant books. In that fantasy world, white gold from our world had special properties.
    • I'd suggest the hero having a big bag of diamonds, for the purchase of a real sword :o)

      On the other hand, I'd just suggest he leaves in the sword, and call it diamantite or something. Completely like diamond, except flexible ;)

    • by fossa (212602)

      Steel sword coated with diamond? Isn't this how samurai swords are essentially made, with a softer steel on the inside and hard martensite on the outside for a sharp edge but flexible sword?

    • by Quixadhal (45024) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @11:44AM (#18824129) Homepage Journal
      He's a writer... he should come up with something.

      The sword was crafted by an Uber Death Mage, who used the blood of the last virgin to scream "first post!" on slashdot to cast a technobabble spell, which caused the entire blade to form as a single facet of diamond. Thus having no stress points, the blade would be nearly perfect, as long as the victim didn't use a Google shield to find previous postings and block it.

      That took me a whole 15 seconds.... surely he's had a bit more time to ponder?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Kjella (173770)
      Something tells me the author won't be very successful if he can't write himself out of that corner. Even if it was possible, would you in a fantasy novel explain it's a diamond-steel alloy with micrograin and internal stress? Any of the following should work:

      a) The sword is magical. If it's that central, it should be anyway and so it's the magic making it indestructable, not the material
      b) The sword isn't actually of diamond, but the material is unknown and looks like it, so it's been given a poetic name
      c)
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Paradise Pete (33184)
      the author said that I had basically ruined his life by wrecking the whole concept of the book that he had been writing for the last few years. In subsequent emails, he was begging me to come up with a solution

      If he can't figure out a solution to that I'm guessing the rest of the book ain't gonna be all that hot.

    • In subsequent emails, he was begging me to come up with a solution (e.g. diamond sword, coated with steel, etc.?).

      How about the good old deus ex machina, it worked for the ancient greeks. Just let one protagonist say something along this line:
      "thanks god they invented the nanofluxdiaconplexor, which transforms diamonds into the toughest material in the universe!"

      problem solved.
    • by einhverfr (238914)
      A pattern-welded sword with diamond dust impregnating the edge laminate?

      They add diamond dust to all sorts of grinding/cutting tools today, and although I think it would not make much of a difference in this case (unless the sword is designed to *grind* through armor) it is at least feasible.

      A better idea would be some auger with diamond dust in the edges...
    • Wasn't one of the concepts in sword forging that you want to have a lot of carbon on the edge, and less of it on the back (or middle) to get a sword that's sharp but bends so that it doesn't break?

      A sword made fully of diamond would be stupid as the whole sword would shatter, but one with a diamond edge should cut really good (and chip very badly afterwards).

      Here's a solution for the author:

      In the Fullmetal Alchemist anime, alchemy is a sort of the science of transformation of matter. An alchemist can resha
    • Since he is a fantasy author, why not make a material up?
    • tell him to make the sword out of rhenium diboride
    • In subsequent emails, he was begging me to come up with a solution (e.g. diamond sword, coated with steel, etc.?)...
      The sword is MAGIC!!
      or...
      The fact that a diamond sword is awe inspiring and valuable, but shatters upon the protagonists first use could actually make for an interesting story element. An enormous sense of loss, coupled with the shock of reality would definately be affective.
    • In one case, the author said that I had basically ruined his life by wrecking the whole concept of the book that he had been writing for the last few years. In subsequent emails, he was begging me to come up with a solution (e.g. diamond sword, coated with steel, etc.?)...

      Perhaps the author should consider a hero that scratches the enemy to death. He shall be named "Sir Scratch-a-lot"
    • Some place I've got a sword of slaying. He might want to use that.
      --
      Slice through utility rate increases. http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/slashdot-users -selling-solar.html [blogspot.com]
  • Yup, this new material scratches diamond, but from the article:

    The material is nearly as hard as cubic boron nitride and boron suboxide, two of the hardest materials known, and like them can scratch diamond. It should also be able to cut steel without reacting chemically with the iron.
    Ideally the headline should be mentioning that it's a material created in a furnace without using expensive high pressure methods. That's what makes this annoucement special.
  • what? (Score:5, Funny)

    by nanosquid (1074949) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @12:04PM (#18824311)
    Chuck Norris's toe nail clippings?
    • by jfengel (409917)
      Yeah, but I want a sword made out of Chuck Norris' toenail _clippers_.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jinxidoru (743428)
      Chuck Norris's toe nail clippings?

      What the?! How did I suddenly get teleported into Barrens chat?
  • o/~ Nobody doesn't like molten boron! o/~
  • I wonder? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Paracelcus (151056)
    If it could be incorporated into a matrix of buckytubes, it could be a great laminating material for armor.
  • by Tavor (845700) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @02:01PM (#18825221)
    On his scale, this one goes up to 11.
  • Man (down on one knee): Honey, will you marry me? Woman: What the hell is that? Man: It's rhenium diboride, more durable than diamond. I wanted to show you just how much I love you, even more than diamond. Woman: Cheap bastard. Come back when you have a diamond.
  • Thompson's Teeth - The only teeth strong enough to eat other teeth.
  • Sounds familiar ?

    I hope I'm not the only one around here how ever studied the great con artist of history.

    In 1905, a Henri Lemoine, 81st Lecourbe St. (Paris), said he could create diamonds using nothing more than his cooking stove and electricity (15000 or 18000 amps, at 110V).

    He manage to get about 70000 British Pounds (imagine how much was that in 1905) from Sir Julius Werner (president of Da Beers Corporation).

    Even thou this is not related to the article, it did remind me of this fact. Yes, definitively

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