Science & Tech

New ‘Quasicrystals’ are discovered by scientists

In the Sand Hills of north central Nebraska, scientists discovered a new type of quasicrystal with 12-fold symmetry.

What exactly is a Quasicrystal?

  • A quasicrystal is a crystal-like substance.
  • However, unlike a crystal, which has atoms arranged in a repeating pattern, a quasicrystal has atoms arranged in a pattern that does not repeat itself on a regular basis.
  • For a long time, physicists assumed that every crystalline arrangement of atoms must have a pattern that perfectly repeats itself over and over again.
  • This changed in 1982, when material scientist Dan Shechtman discovered mathematically regular crystal structures that do not repeat themselves.

How do they come to be?

  • In the recent discovery, an electrical discharge triggered the formation of quasicrystals.
  • It’s also the first time scientists have discovered a quasicrystal somewhere other than meteorites or nuclear blast debris.

Quasicrystal Applications

  • There are no major commercial applications that directly exploit the properties of the quasicrystalline state.
  • Quasicrystals form in compounds with high strength and low weight, implying potential applications in aerospace and other industries.
  • They have applications in surgical instruments, LED lighting, and nonstick frying pans.
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