Scientists have two directions to choose from in making superhard, ultra-incompressible materials. The first, is to imitate natural diamond, by using carbon and combining it with boron or nitrogen to maintain short covalent bonds–but that involves using high-pressure and high temperatures, making it a very expensive process. The second approach is to look for metals that are already incompressible and try to make them hard. Through four generations of experiments with various formations, they’ve created materials hard enough to scratch diamond, but can still be easily cut into tools using a cost- and energy-efficient process called electric discharge machining. These superhard materials have the potential to cut deep into the market by providing a cost-effective more durable alternative to current milling, sawing and drilling tools.
Creating superhard metals to meet industrial-strength challenges.