Discovery of New Quasicrystal

A US scientist recently discovered quasicrystals. The major difference between an ordinary crystal and a quasi-crystal is that the atomic patterns in quasi-crystals do not repeat themselves as that of an ordinary crystal. They are rare to occur naturally. However, can be created artificially. So far, we have discovered only two naturally occurring quasicrystals. The recently discovered is the third naturally occurring quasicrystal and was formed accidentally from an electric discharge. This would have happened due to lightning strikes or power line downing.

What is a Quasicrystal?

Scientists believed that the atomic patterns in crystals repeat and are symmetrical. This assumption changed in 1982 when Dan Shechctman found that atomic structures in crystals are mathematically identical but may or may not repeat themselves. Schechtman found this by passing X-rays through crystals. He received Nobel Prize for this in 2011. Such crystals whose atomic structure does not repeat are called quasi-crystals.

What is the new discovery?

The quasi-crystals are usually laboratory made. Quasi crystals require high pressure and temperature to form such patterns where the atomic structures do not repeat themselves. It is very rare to occur naturally. However, scientists have discovered a naturally occurring Quasi crystal; twice before. The first discovery was in 2009 in Russia. The second discovery was in 2021 in Mexico from a nuclear explosion. The recent and third discovery is from a meteorite near Nebraska. The meteorite rock that hit the earth’s surface millions of years ago has been hit by a lightning strike and the quasi-crystal was formed.




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