Whether it will compete for the title of a girls best friend remains to be seen but the element osmium can already challenge diamond in at least one respect: stiffness. According to a report published in the current issue of Physical Review Letters, osmium can withstand compression better than any known material. The results provide a potentially new lead in the search for superhard materials.
Diamonds ability to resist scratches, dents and chipping--in short, its hardness--makes it an ideal choice for tips in industrial strength machines. A related quality that is easier to calculate than hardness is an elements resistance to compression, as known as its bulk modulus. The properties are interrelated because the stiffest materials also tend to be the hardest ones. But even though osmium is much softer than diamond, initial estimates of its bulk modulus indicated a similar value to that of diamond.
Hyunchae Cynn and colleagues at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory thus set out to test the property experimentally. They squeezed osmium powder under 600,000 atmospheres of pressure and calculated changes in the spacing between atoms in the sample using x-ray diffraction patterns. The team reports that osmiums bulk modulus is 462 gigapascals (GPa) as compared to diamonds 443 GPa. "It is intriguing that a light, covalently bonded element such as diamond and a heavy, metallic element such as osmium, with very different chemical bonding, would both have large values of the bulk modulus," the authors note. They conclude that related compounds such as transition metal carbides, nitrides and oxides could be sources of new superhard materials. --
Sarah Graham | News in Brief
An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk
20.01.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP
Treated carbon pulls radioactive elements from water
20.01.2017 | Rice University
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences