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Scientists Find 3rd Ever Natural Quasicrystal

QUA·SI·CRYS·TAL

Scientists have found the 3rd ever natural quasicrystal coming from the same object called khatyyrka meteorite (found in Siberia). They are so difficult to find because they are tiny, with the newest one found measuring at half a millimeter across. “It’s hard to look systematically for these things, because we’re talking about grains which are typically tens, or maybe a few hundred microns, in size, and you have to look through a gigantic meteorite at each little grain that size,” Paul Steinhardt, team leader from Princeton University said.

Researchers have been making quasicrystals in labs since 1982 but natural ones are incredible difficult to find.

What is a Quasicrystal you say? Well…

  • Crystals can only exhibit certain symmetries. In crystals, atoms or atomic clusters repeat periodically, analogous to a tessellation in 2D constructed from a single type of tile. Try tiling the plane with identical units… only certain symmetries are possible

  • Quasicrystals diffract electrons like a crystal but their symmetry is strictly forbidden for crystals

  • These Impossible Crystals were first discovered in alloys of Aluminium and Manganese by Daniel Shechtman, Ilan Blech, Denis Gratias and John Cahn.

Check out Paul Steinhardt’s Princeton Page for more information and great pictures on Quasicrystals.

http://wwwphy.princeton.edu/~steinh/quasicrystals.html

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