Materials Science

Breaking the strongest of bonds

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Science  21 Oct 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6310, pp. 298-299
DOI: 10.1126/science.354.6310.298-d

Boron carbide is an extremely hard ceramic used for applications such as bulletproof vests. Its exceptional properties are due to the bond strength in boron-carbon chains and clusters. Xie et al. show that the boron-carbon bond isn't quite as unbreakable as it may seem. The researchers found evidence for the complete destruction of 12-atom boron carbide clusters during laser-assisted evaporation while performing atom probe experiments. This result defies the expectation that these clusters are hard to break and may help explain the decrease in ballistic performance at high impact rates.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1607980113 (2016).

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