Why is diamond stronger than metals?

In summary, diamonds are stronger than covalent materials and ionic compounds due to their directed covalent bond structure. On the other hand, metals are weaker than diamonds because their ionic cores are embedded in a sea of valence electrons, allowing for easy movement and making them more ductile. However, some transition metals with directed d-orbitals, such as Tungsten, can also exhibit high hardness and brittleness.
  • #1
TT0
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I know the reasons that diamonds are stronger than covalent materials and ionic compounds. The former is weaker because there are intermolecular forces and the latter is weaker because if pressure is applied like charged ions would be forced together making it brittle. However, I cannot think why metal substances are weaker than diamonds other than that metallic bonding is a weak bond. Can someone explain this to me?

I think that ionic bonds are as strong as covalent bonds, is this true?
 
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  • #2
The covalent bond in diamond is not only strong but also directed while the cohesive forces in metals and ionic compounds depend little on the relative positions of the atoms.
 
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  • #3
Could you explain a bit more about the relative positions? and also about the direction? cheers!
 
  • #4
"Strong" is a rather dangerous word to be used here. Diamonds are hard, bur relatively brittle. You can scratch any metal with a diamond, but diamond hit with a hammer will break.
 
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  • #5
I see, I meant hard. Apologies
 
  • #6
In diamond, each carbon atom is surrounded tetrahedrally by other carbon atoms. If you try to move an atom keeping its distance from its bond partner constant, this would greatly weaken the bond and requires therefore a strong force. In contrast to this, in metals the ionic cores are embedded into the electron gas formed by the valence electrons like raisins in honey. Moving the ions sidewards will therefore cost little energy. Therefore metals are much more ductile than diamond. However, this is not true for transition metals, as the d-orbitals also form directed bonds. Hence metals like Tungsten are very hard and brittle, too.
 
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I see thank you. That was a very clear explanation :smile::smile::smile::smile::smile:
 
  • #8
You are welcome!
 

Related to Why is diamond stronger than metals?

1. Why is diamond considered the strongest material?

Diamond is considered the strongest material due to its unique molecular structure. Each carbon atom is bonded to four other carbon atoms in a tetrahedral arrangement, creating a strong and rigid lattice structure. This makes diamond extremely resistant to breakage and deformation.

2. How does diamond's structure make it stronger than metals?

The strong covalent bonds between carbon atoms in diamond create a tightly packed and uniform structure, making it difficult for atoms to slide past each other. This results in high hardness and strength, making diamond stronger than metals which have a more irregular and less dense atomic arrangement.

3. Is diamond stronger than all metals?

While diamond is generally considered the strongest material, there are a few metals that have comparable or even higher strength. For example, tungsten and titanium have higher tensile strength than diamond, but they are not as hard or resistant to scratches.

4. Why is diamond often used in industrial applications?

Due to its exceptional strength and hardness, diamond is commonly used in industrial applications such as cutting and drilling tools, grinding wheels, and as a coating for machinery parts. Its resistance to wear and tear makes it an ideal material for heavy-duty and high-precision operations.

5. Can diamond be melted or damaged under extreme conditions?

Diamond has a high melting point of 3,827°C, which makes it difficult to melt under normal conditions. However, it can be damaged or even vaporized under extreme temperatures and pressures, such as those found in a laboratory setting or during a volcanic eruption.

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