Have you heard of the term ‘quasicrystal’? Well, you might have had, in some science journal, research paper or the Discovery channel. There are many attributes about these things. However, before going into the detail of the same, it will be worth to have a little understanding with regards to this!
What is quasicrystal?
It is also known as quasiperiodic crystal. It is an ordered structure which is not periodic. It does not possess translational symmetry.
The scientists had by far found 2 natural quasicrystals. However, now they have got hands on the third one. The third quasicrystal is fabricated of aluminum, iron and copper.
Here are some interesting pointers about the quasicrsytals:-
- The quasicrystal belongs to the Khatykra meteorite. In fact, all the 3 belong to the same meteorite.
- It was found in Siberia.
- These objects are really tedious to find, since they are quite small. You can understand the same, from the fact that that the third one, found latest is even less than half a millimeter across.
Paul Steinhardt, team leader of Princeton University, says-“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,” he further adds- “Unless you were completely crazy like we were, you wouldn’t be doing that.”
It was Steinhardt, who predicted the existence of the quasicrystals back in the 1980s. He mentioned them to be a structured configuration amidst chaotic amorphous solid. In accordance with him, the quasicrystals have a regular structure. However, they do not have a pattern which repeats itself.
It is will be fascinating for the readers to know, that it is really possible to fabricate the quasicrystals in the laboratory. In fact, the researchers have been pursuing this, since, 1982. Till date the number of different varieties of the same, synthesized in the laboratory has reached a century. However, natural ones are more mysterious, not that common.
What could have been the process which resulted in natural quasicrystal?
There is a possibility that during the primitive years of the Solar system, there had occurred impacts amidst asteroids. However, this is it. No other detail with regards to the formation is available. Needless to add, that if the researchers are able to find with regards to the process, it might aid in unfurling the mystery which surrounds these quasicrsytal.
Steinhardt is optimistic with regard to finding the recipe sooner. He explains-“Once you know the answer, it’s not that hard to reproduce,” explained Steinhardt.
The most amazing aspect of the quasicrystal is that till date, even after fabricating so many of them in the lab, there is not much of an idea with regard to a common application.
But, then science is always about newer discoveries and never ending invention. Hence, there is immense possibility that the newest natural member of the group is able to unravel some interesting and outstanding truths about Quasicrystals!