The hardest material on the planet has just been approved

The hardest material on the planet has just been approved

With its incredible properties, CrCoNi has not finished being explored and exploited. | Berkeley Lab

Call it CrCoNi. This alloy of chromium, cobalt and nickel has just been officially designated as the hardest material ever recorded on Earth, after a series of measurements carried out within the eminent American laboratories Lawrence Berkeley and Oak Ridge. This does not prevent it from being highly malleable, specifies Interesting Engineering.

Suffice to say that with its incredible properties, CrCoNi has not finished being explored and exploited. Because “when you design structural materials, you want them to be tough, but also to be ductile and unbreakable,” reads the statement of an alloy research pundit.

CrCoNi bends but does not break. More impressive, it pushes the limits of this expression. Even the lowest temperatures do not scare it: instead of weakening it, they make it even more resistant.

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CrCoNi is a high entropy alloy (HEA), a class of metals whose constituents are present in equal parts. This differentiates them from conventional alloys, which generally consist of one dominant element to which others are added in smaller amounts. All are distinguished by their robustness and malleability, but this one has pushed back all the limits known so far.

The numbers are dizzying: at –424°F, or approximately –253°C, the strength of this material is 500 times greater than that of silicone, 14 times greater than that of aluminum used for airliners and 5 times more than that of the heaviest steels.

Patience is the mother of safety

The structure of CrCoNi is fascinating. Robert Ritchie, who co-directed research on this material at the Lawrence Berkeley laboratory, cannot believe it…

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