Marble, granite and quartz are pretty hard materials. That is why we here at Marble Creations use them to make our counter tops – they can stand up to any amount of stress put on them in the typical kitchen or bathroom.
But they are far from the hardest materials on Earth.
It seems the whole planet is obsessed with producing materials that are harder and stronger than the norm. Whether it be security companies looking to make materials capable of protecting us from all manner of problems, or mother nature herself forming impossibly dense substances under incredible amounts of pressure, everyone is at it.
So we’ve compiled a list of some of the hardest materials on Earth, each one standing out in its own field as being one of, if not the, hardest material of that kind.
Darwin bark spider’s web
We’ll start with the hardest material made by a living creature. The webbing of the Darwin bark spider, native to Madagascar, is 10 times stronger than kevlar, the material used to make bulletproof vests! You wouldn’t want to walk through it, trust us.
A compound made of silicon and carbon, silicon carbide has been produced since the 1800s as an abrasive material. In more modern times, this super tough material has been used in the automotive industry for its incredibly durability. It has been used as the basis of tank armour too.
Smart nanotechnology has led to the invention of nano-kevlar. This microscopic organic material is so stiff and durable, it is believed it will usher in a new age of personnel armour, up to and including body armour you can print with a 3D printer!
The one you were all waiting for. At present, diamond has been dubbed the hardest natural material in the world (the next two items may one day challenge that). It is comprised of carbon, the same material that forms coal, that has been put under intense levels of pressure.
Wurtzite Boron Nitride
One contender to diamonds throne, WBN is a material created during volcanic eruptions, under the right circumstances. The reason it doesn’t sit atop diamonds is because of its rarity – not enough exists to test how tougher it is, though it is predicted to be 18% harder than diamonds.
Contestant number two looking to challenge diamonds, lonsdaleite is formed when meteorites containing graphite strike the Earth. In theory, it could be 58% stronger than diamonds, but again not enough exists to test.
We now turn into man made materials. Dyneema is the world’s strongest fibre, comprised of polythene. Yep, the same material used to make those flimsy supermarket bags can be turned into a fibre lighter than water and 15 times stronger than steel.
Glass isn’t what anyone pictures when thinking of strength, but this is no ordinary glass. It is metal with the atomic structure of glass, which actually removes some of metals weaknesses. It’s too difficult to explain here, but the bottom line is this – palladium microalloy glass is thought to be the most durable material on Earth.
Glass to. . . paper? Again, don’t judge a book by its cover. Nanotechnology has allowed us to create tubes, comprised of carbon, that are 50,000 thinner than human hair. This incredibly compacted material is 500 times stronger than steel and 10 times lighter!
Carbon also takes home the top stop with graphere. Here, they are formed into one atom thick sheets that are 200 times stronger than steel. A slice as thin as cling film would require the weight of an elephant pressing down on a point as thin as a pencil to break!