What Are the Strongest & Hardest Metals Known to Mankind?
Which Metal Is the Strongest?
You're probably looking for a simple numbered list of strong metals here, rated from strongest to weakest. Unfortunately, you're not going to get an answer so easily. First, we need to determine what kind of strength we're talking about.
When it comes to metals, strength can be defined in four different ways.
Four Different Types of Strength
A material's capacity to withstand compaction or size reduction, or how much resistance it has to being squeezed together.
How strongly a material resists tension or a measure of how much strength it takes to stretch it or pull it apart.
How well a material resists deformation or how much strength it takes to bend it.
A material's ability to resist sudden force or impact without breaking or shattering.
What Is the Strongest Metal in the World?
Steel and alloys top the list for overall strength. Steels, alloys of iron, and other metals are much harder than any one type alone. The following are the strongest metals in the world:
- Carbon Steels have a carbon content up to 2.1 percent by weight, a yield strength of 260 megapascals (MPa), and a tensile strength of 580 MPa. They score about 6 on the Mohs scale and are extremely impact-resistant.
- Maraging Steels are made with 15-25 percent nickel and other elements (like cobalt, titanium, molybdenum, and aluminum) and a low carbon content. They have a yield strength of between 1400 and 2400 MPa.
- Stainless Steel, with yield strength of up to 1,560 MPa and a tensile strength of up to 1,600 MPa, is made with a minimum of 11 percent chromium and often combined with nickel to resist corrosion.
- Tool steels (used to make tools) are alloyed with cobalt and tungsten.
- Inconel (a superalloy of austenite, nickel, and chromium) can endure extreme conditions and high temperatures.
What Is an Alloy?
Alloys are combinations of metals that produce an even stronger material.
What Is the Strongest Non-Alloy Metal in the World?
While the aforementioned alloys can be considered the strongest metals in the world, the following metals are the strongest pure, non-alloy, metals:
- Tungsten has the highest tensile strength of any natural metal, but it's brittle and tends to shatter on impact.
- Titanium has a tensile strength of 63,000 PSI. Its tensile-strength-to-density ratio is higher than any natural metal, even tungsten, but it scores lower on the Mohs scale of hardness. It is also extraordinarily resistant to corrosion.
- Chromium, on the Mohs scale for hardness, is the hardest metal around. It scores 9.0, but it's extremely brittle. So unless it's combined with other metals, it isn't very useful if you need yield and tensile strength.
How Is Hardness Measured?
The Mohs scale of mineral hardness, created in 1812 by German geologist and mineralogist Friedrich Mohs, is used to rate a mineral's scratch resistance. The method of comparing hardness by seeing which minerals can visibly scratch others is, however, of great antiquity. While greatly facilitating the identification of minerals in the field, the Mohs scale does not show how well hard materials perform in an industrial setting. Despite its lack of precision, the Mohs scale is highly relevant for field geologists who use the scale to roughly identify minerals using scratch kits.
The Vickers Hardness Scale
The Vickers hardness test was developed in 1921 by Robert L. Smith and George E. Sandland at Vickers Ltd as an alternative to the Brinell method to measure the hardness of materials. The basic principle, as with all common measures of hardness, is to observe the questioned material's ability to resist plastic deformation from a standard source. The Vickers test can be used for all metals and has one of the widest scales among hardness tests. The unit of hardness given by the test is known as the Vickers Pyramid Number (HV) or Diamond Pyramid Hardness (DPH). The hardness number can be converted into units of pascals, but should not be confused with pressure, which uses the same units. The hardness number is determined by the load over the surface area of the indentation, and not the area normal to the force, and is therefore not pressure.
What Type of Metal Is Stronger Than Titanium?
While titanium is one of the strongest pure metals, steel alloys are stronger. This is because a combination of metals is always stronger than a single metal. Carbon steel, for example, combines the strength of steel with the resilience of carbon. Alloys are essentially super metals.
What Is the Strongest and Lightest Metal in the World?
In 2015, Australian and Chinese researchers discovered a Magnesium alloy that is widely considered to be the strongest and lightest metal in the world. It is also highly resistant to corrosion, making it a useful material for vehicle manufacturing.
Recently, magnesium alloy has been used for creating the bodies of cell phones and DSLR cameras like the Nikon D800 and the Sony A7R.
Is Titanium Stronger Than a Diamond?
Titanium is not stronger than a diamond. In terms of hardness, Titanium is not harder than a diamond either.
Titanium strength is .434 GPa, or giga pascals. Diamond strength is around 60 GPa. As for the hardness scale, titanium is 36 Rockwell C, while diamond is 98.07 Rockwell C.
Although titanium has gained a reputation of being an extremely strong material, most steels are stronger. The only advantage titanium has over steel is that it is a much lighter material. When compared to diamond, however, titanium does not come close in strength or hardness.
What Is the Strongest Metal in the Universe?
The strongest known metal in the universe is steel alloy. Because steel alloy is so versatile, it can be crafted to meet nearly any requirement. Still, however it is crafted, the combination of steel with other strong metals makes it the strongest known metal in the universe.
As for hardness, chromium is the hardest known metal. While the hardest known mineral in the universe is diamond, the honor of the hardest metal goes to chromium. Chromium is used in the well-known alloy stainless steel to make it harder.
What Is the Rarest Metal in the World?
The rarest metal in the world is rhodium. This metal is sourced mainly from South Africa, Russia, and Canada, and is used for its reflective properties. Other metals that are considered almost as rare as rhodium are listed below.
The 11 Rarest Metals in the World
High melting point, dense, non-corrosive
Bluish-silver, dense, brittle
Malleable, stable when heated
What Is Stronger Than a Diamond?
According to PhysOrg.com article from 2009, a material called wurtzite boron nitride has a greater indentation strength than diamond. The scientists who made this discovery have also calculated that another material, lonsdaleite, is even stronger than wurtzite boron nitride and 58 percent stronger than a diamond. This discovery marked the first case where a material exceeded a diamond in strength under the same loading conditions.
The extreme strength of the two materials is due to their reaction to compression. Most materials undergo a structural transformation under pressure that makes them stronger. Lonsdaleite and wurtzite boron nitride have subtle differences in the directional arrangements of their structural bonds, making them stronger than diamonds under pressure.
Is Vibranium Stronger Than Titanium?
Because vibranium is the fictional metal that Captain America's shield is made of, it is most likely stronger than titanium. However, because we can not perform strength or hardness tests on a fictional material, all we can say is titanium is real and strong, and vibranium is an as yet undiscovered material, at least in this universe.
A36 Steel Tensile Test (Video)
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© 2017 Jo Kenyon