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Diamond and cubic boron nitride ( BN) as conventional superhard materials have found widespread industrial applications, but both have inherent limitations. Diamond is not suitable for high-speed cutting of ferrous materials due to its poor chemical inertness, while BN is only about half as hard as diamond. Because of their affinity in structural lattices and covalent bonding character, diamond and BN could form alloys that can potentially fill the performance gap. However, the idea has never been demonstrated because samples obtained in the previous studies were too small to be tested for their practical performance. Here, we report the synthesis and characterization of transparent bulk diamond- BN alloy compacts whose diameters (3 mm) are sufficiently large for them to be processed into cutting tools. The testing results show that the diamond- BN alloy has superior chemical inertness over polycrystalline diamond and higher hardness than single crystal BN. High-speed cutting tests on hardened steel and granite suggest that diamond- BN alloy is indeed a universal cutting material.


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