Diamond drilling was a break-through approach mostly used in mining industry to exploit deposits that would otherwise remain inaccessible. It also enabled the recovery of cores to examine the underground profile of rocks and soils.
The term diamond drilling is used as small industrial diamonds are placed into the metallic drill and thus, they can penetrate through very hard materials (diamonds are the hardest natural materials).
Despite their extreme toughness and durability, scientists are looking for an alternative to replace diamonds due to their high-cost production. Until now, the efforts to produce a tough and strong material mostly included trial and error techniques, however, those procedures are also costly and successful results are not guaranteed.
A study, recently published in Journal of Applied Physics, suggests a new manner to predict the properties of materials using computational methods. Despite the existence of many predictive models applied for material science, the determination of a material's toughness and hardness is still challenging.
The scientists propose a new algorithm that combines all the elements in the periodic table in search of the optimal combinations. “This computational search is a potential way to optimize the search for new materials, much cheaper, faster and quite accurately,” Dr. Alexander Kvashnin, lead author of the study and senior research scientist at Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology and Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, stated.
The algorithm was tested by predicting the hardness and toughness characteristics of known materials and it proved to be 90% accurate. “Our study outlines a picture that can guide experimentalists, showing them the direction to search for new hard materials,” Dr. Kvashnin, added.
The next phase includes the production of Tungsten Pentaboride (WB5), a material with high predicted toughness and hardness. The researchers' future purpose is to replace diamond with cheaper materials and to fully understand the physical procedures that make a material hard and tough.
Source: AIP Publishing
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