Cheaper production of an unsung industrial substance could make hard stuff easier

Boron nitride has a tough reputation.

In its cubic crystal structure, cubic boron nitride, or c-BN, is one of the most remarkably-durable human-made materials ever invented, almost on par with natural and synthetic diamonds. It is widely used across aerospace, defense, energy, transportation, and other industries, in settings where products are intended to withstand truly extreme conditions, or when heavy industry needs to drill, cut, or ground such parts into shape.

The hardy stuff even holds up in highly reactive environments; it demonstrates superior stability against oxidation and unintended chemical reactions with, for example, iron, even at incredibly high temperatures.

Boron nitride also happens to be a semiconductor with electrical properties that could enable electronics manufacturers to build equipment that provide 3-4% greater power conversion efficiency than traditional, silicon-based technologies. Think about that: if you multiply that increase in efficiency by the number of electronic devices that require power conversion (hint–all of them), the positive economic and energy-consumption impact is staggering.

But, according to Siddha Pimputkar, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering, the process of producing cubic boron nitride presents a significant obstacle, and boasts a reputation for being equally as stubborn as the material itself.

Read the full article here.