Minerals are among the most interesting components of the earth’s surface. They represent a unique combination of chemical elements that form naturally occurring substances characterized by specific properties and characteristics. These physical and chemical properties vary from one mineral to another, including their hardness.
The hardness property refers to a mineral’s resistance to scratching or abrasion when acted upon by an external force. This property is critical in geology, mining, engineering, and many other fields because it enables experts to differentiate minerals with underlying structural differences.
Different minerals have varying degrees of hardness based on their crystal structure, composition, bonding pattern, density and type of impurities present in them. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at what mineral is the hardest known substance on earth based on scientific research.
Mohs Hardness Scale
Before delving into which mineral is regarded as the hardest material globally let us first understand briefly about Mohs’ hardness scale.
In 1812 Friedrich Mohs came up with a standard scale for measuring minerals’ hardness for which he has devoted his name: “Mohs Hardness Scale.” It ranks ten common minerals (and some commonly used materials) according to their scratch resistance capacity — meaning how quickly they become scratched when rubbed against something harder than them.
On this scale, talc has assigned zero value; it signifies its softest state while diamond sits atop as number 10 since it is considered the toughest natural substance globally but often confused with being labeled as the ‘hardest’.
What Mineral Is The Hardest?
Diamond was long believed to be ‘the’ hardest mineral worldwide until 2009 when Researchers led by Nancy Ross from Arizona State University discovered a previously unfamiliar rare metallic crystal called Wurtzite boron nitride (WBn). WBn is not only harder than diamonds almost twice three times more robust than any other element previously tested – beating out materials like sapphire, ruby or silicon carbide too – on Mohs scale.
WBn has a tetrahedral network structure comprising boron and nitrogen atoms along with powerful covalent bonds between the atoms. It’s these terms that make it so robust, this is because an external force applied to the crystal lattice requires more energy to break its densely packed atomic planes than other material we have ever known.
This discovery was significant in the fields of geology, engineering, mineralogy even as NASA considered using Wurtzite boron nitride space probes & rovers for exploration purposes due to its durability against environmental hazards (temperature extremes and radiation) that can easily damage equipment made from conventional materials used also improve cutting tools longevity in industrial applications – such as any intense drilling or grinding activity where wear-resistance is essential.
In conclusion, Minerals’ hardness ranges from zero (talc) up to ten (diamond). Diamond had long enjoyed being referred to as ‘the’ hardest substance globally until research work led by Nancy Ross discovered Wurtzite Boron Nitride; they proved extremely hard when compared amongst others on Mohs Hardness Scale. The knowledge gained from studying minerals will continue providing scientists & engineers solutions critical problems faced every day in our world today.
Minerals are fascinating material found on earth’s surface, and they represent an interesting combination of chemical elements that form naturally occurring substances with specific properties and characteristics. One of the most crucial physical properties in determining their value is hardness. Hardness is a mineral’s resistance to scratching or abrasion when subjected to external force or pressure.
Mohs’ hardness scale categorized ten often-used minerals according to their scratch-resistant capacity, starting from zero for the softest to 10 for the hardest mineral. Diamond has always been considered the strongest natural substance worldwide at number 10 until recently discovered rare metallic crystal called Wurtzite boron nitride (WBn).
Unlike diamond, WBn proved almost twice as hard and three times stronger than any previously known element tested worldwide on Mohs scale. Its highly dense atomic structures comprise Boron Nitride atoms bound together by powerful covalent bonds, making it extremely resilient to stressors and damage.
The importance of discovering such a robust natural element cannot be overstated in many fields like geology, mining, engineering, and space exploration- particularly for NASA. The potential uses are endless due to its ability to resist environmental hazards like radiation and temperature extremes; it can function better than conventional materials prone to wear & tear under intense usage such drilling industrial applications that require cutters with wear-resistance capabilities.
In conclusion, minerals make up many things we use today globally; understanding what makes them unique will continue providing scientists & engineers solutions critical problems faced every day in our world today.”