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June 22, 2010

Diamondlike BC5 Material is Superhard and a Superconductor

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BC5, a diamond-like material with an extremely high boron content that offers exceptional hardness and resistance to fracture, but unlike diamond, it is a superconductor rather than an insulator.

In 2008, french researchers calculated that BC5 would superconduct with a critical temperature of the same order as that of MgB2.


At the heart of their study is the proposal that the synthesized BC5 adopts the diamond-[100] structure with special symmetry. Explains Ma, the BC5 structure has atomic packing of the form ABCABC… along the [100] crystallographic direction of diamond. This makes the deep understanding of this superhard and superconducting species possible. Ma believes that the outstanding mechanical and electrical properties of BC5 can be adapted to design new superconducting nano-electromechanical systems and high-pressure devices.

Quan Li, the study's first author, expects their findings to stimulate further research into other B-C-N compounds with superhard and superconducting properties.


The article, "Superhard and Superconducting Structures of BC5" by Quan Li et al will appear in the Journal of Applied Physics

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