Ultrahard Materials

Image Placeholder
Scanning electron micrograph of WB4

All of our work in the area of designing new ultrahard materials is part of a longstanding and very fruitful collaboration with the Kaner group. The work focuses on a large family of transition metal borides that are both extremely hard and metallic in nature, allowing them to be easily shaped and formed using electric discharge machining, despite their high hardness. These superhard metals can be synthesized at ambient pressure and have exciting potential for next generation cutting tools. During the past few years, we have focused on expanding the range of materials that show superhard behavior, examining both lower boride (ex- WB) and a wide range of solid solution based materials. The Tolbert group emphasis in this work has largely focused on high pressure studies, in an effort to understand lattice deformation in these new materials with crystallographic specificity.