Diamond is the Earth’s hardest naturally occurring material. Carbon atoms are organised in a crystal lattice arrangement called a diamond cubic crystal structure to form the carbon compound diamond. Diamond’s outstanding hardness and a host of other exceptional qualities are due to this unusual arrangement of atoms. Let’s explore in detail about the hardest substance on earth.
What is the hardest substance on earth?
Each carbon atom in a diamond is linked to four other carbon atoms in a tetrahedral structure. Strong covalent bonds between carbon atoms create a crystal lattice that is very stable and dense. Diamond is incredibly hard due to the strength of these covalent bonds.
The Mohs scale, which rates minerals and substances on a range from 1 (softest) to 10 (hardest), is commonly used to determine how hard a material is. The hardest material is diamond, which has a Mohs hardness rating of 10. This indicates that it can scratch all other substances on the scale, even corundum, which is the second-hardest mineral and contains sapphires and rubies and has a Mohs rating of 9.
Factors Contributing to Diamond’s Hardness
The remarkable hardness of diamonds is a result of several factors:
1. Strong Covalent Bonds : As was already explained, the covalent bonds between the carbon atoms in a diamond are extraordinarily strong. These bonds, which result in a strong, three-dimensional network, require the sharing of electrons between carbon atoms.
2. Lattice Structure : Each carbon atom in the diamond’s cubic crystal lattice is connected to four other carbon atoms in a tetrahedral arrangement, resulting in a highly organised structure. Due to its homogeneous structure, which effectively distributes force throughout the crystal, it is resistant to breaking and scratching.
3. High Density : Diamond has an extremely high specific gravity, which is almost 3.5 g/cm3. As a result of the considerable amount of carbon atoms packed into a given volume and resulting increase in the material’s strength, the high density of the material also contributes to its hardness.
4. No Cleavage Planes : Diamond lacks cleavage planes, in contrast to many other minerals and crystals. A material can easily break or divide along certain directions called cleavage planes. Diamond doesn’t have any weak spots that can be used for breaking or cutting since it lacks cleavage planes.
Practical Applications of The Hardest Substance on Earth
1. Jewelry : For engagement rings, necklaces, earrings, and other types of jewellery, diamonds are a well-liked option due to their value as well as their beauty and toughness.
2. Cutting and Polishing Tools : For the purpose of making cutting and grinding tools for materials including glass, ceramics, and metals, industrial-grade diamonds, also referred to as “diamond grit” or “diamond dust,” are utilised. Drill bits and diamond saw blades are typical examples.
3. Scientific Instrument : When great hardness and wear resistance are required, such as in diamond anvils used in high-pressure tests and diamond windows in high-energy lasers, diamonds are utilised in scientific instruments.
4. Semiconductor Industry : When great hardness and wear resistance are required, such as in diamond anvils used in high-pressure tests and diamond windows in high-energy lasers, diamonds are utilised in scientific instruments.
5. Dental and Medical Tools : Due to its accuracy and sharpness, diamond-coated instruments are utilised in dentistry and medical procedures like cutting and drilling bone.
The Synthetic Diamond
Technology advancements have made it possible to create synthetic diamonds with attributes that are similar to those of natural diamonds, which have long been treasured for their hardness. In addition to industrial tools and jewellery, these synthetic diamonds are employed in many of the same applications as natural diamonds.
Due to its distinct atomic structure, robust covalent connections, dense lattice structure, and lack of cleavage planes, diamond is the hardest naturally occurring material on Earth. Due to its extraordinary hardness, it is used in a variety of products, including jewellery, cutting tools, and scientific instruments. The creation of synthetic diamonds has also increased the usage of this extraordinary material for a variety of industrial and technological applications.
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