Using a turbostratic pyrolytic boron nitride produced by a chemical vapor deposition process as a starting material, we conducted experiments for synthesizing polycrystalline cubic boron nitride (PcBN) at a temperature of 1600–2600 °C and pressure of 25 GPa with a multi-anvil high-pressure apparatus. Moreover, we evaluated the microstructure and hardness characteristics of the synthesized PcBN. The results showed that a complete single-phase PcBN without residual wurtzite BN was produced at 1900 °C or higher and a nano-polycrystalline cBN (NPcBN) having a mean grain size smaller than 100 nm could be synthesized at a temperature of 1950 °C or lower under a pressure of 25 GPa. Furthermore, we found that a single-phase NPcBN (CGD-NPcBN) having a characteristic microstructure of dispersed relatively coarse grains in a fine polycrystalline structure, which was harder than 53.5 GPa in Knoop hardness, was produced at a temperature range of 1900–1950 °C. In particular, at 1950 °C, CGD-NPcBN having a Knoop hardness of 54.7 GPa, which is 25% higher than that of the hardest binderless PcBN tool currently in practical use, can be synthesized. In addition, we verified that the Knoop hardness of the single-phase PcBN with a uniform microstructure increased with decreasing mean grain size, which complied with the Hall–Petch relationship.
- Direct transformation
- Grain size
- Knoop hardness
- Nano-polycrystalline cubic boron nitride
- Ultrahigh pressure