The meteorite has found a unique quasicrystal

Physics found in a piece of meteorite that fell in Russia, very rare quasicrystal. The discovery is so rare that it was only the third time such material was found scientists in nature. However, the uniqueness of such crystals not only gives them a rarity. The fact that they are so unique symmetrical structure that for decades science thought their existence “impossible.”

New quasicrystal was discovered by a team of geologists under the leadership of Luke Bindi of the University of Florence (Italy). The scientists examined a piece of the meteorite that crashed in the Russian village of Khatyrka the Anadyr district of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug of Russia five years ago and found in it a quasicrystal with the size of a few micrometers.

It should be noted that this is the third quasicrystal, which was discovered in the same meteorite that can push the idea that can be even more strange structures.

“It’s good that we have already found three different types of quasi-crystals in the same meteorite. The latter has a unique chemical structure which has never seen the quasicrystals,” says Paul Steinhardt of Princeton University, one of the scientists involved in the study.

“This suggests the assumption that the meteorite, as in nature, may hide other kinds of quasicrystals”.

Themselves quasi-crystals have a unique structure, which is forbidden in classical crystallography symmetry and the presence of long-range order. In other words, the symmetry of quasicrystals is present on all scales down to the atomic, thus demonstrating a new structural organization of matter.

Normal crystals found in the same snowflakes, diamonds and table salt, are composed of atoms that form an almost perfect symmetry. Polycrystals are present in most metals, stones, ice and amorphous solid structures such as glass, wax and most types of plastic, have more chaotic and disordered structures.

About the nature of another type of atomic structure – strange, polutoratonny forms of matter, in which are displayed the atomic structure has a point symmetry, in 1982 proved the Israeli physicist Dan Shechtman.

When Shechtman discovered quasicrystal in a sample of aluminium alloy that he created in the laboratory, the scientist at first could not believe his eyes, saying to myself: “this can not be”. His discovery made the scientist 1982. In the ensuing decades, he twice tried to publish the results of their work in scientific journals, but was denied it. Over the scientist’s colleagues literally laughed, not believing his discovery. In the end, the article by Shechtman in a very abbreviated form and in collaboration with other prominent scientists, was published. The reason for the distrust, of course, was that for over 200 years, the quasicrystals was considered as something extremely incredible. Their estimated unique symmetry was considered beyond the traditional rules of crystallography. And yet for his work, Shechtman was awarded the 2011 Nobel prize in chemistry.

It is interesting to note that the physics of quasicrystals met long before their official opening. Scientists mistakenly identified them as cubic crystals with a large lattice constant (the size of the elementary crystal cell of the crystal). The unit cell typically may be presented in different forms, such as rectangular, cubic, triangular, or hexagonal, however, the structure of quasicrystals possess aperiodic order have five symmetrical sides, forming pentagons, which, in turn, create icosahedral symmetry.

Patricia Thiel, a senior researcher of the Laboratory name Ames U.S. Department of energy, gives the following example:

“For example, you want to cover the floor mosaic tiles. The tile has a perfect smooth lines. It can be rectangular, triangular, square or hexagonal. All these shapes can be folded together. Any other figures with simple shapes to fold will not work, because will in the gaps, gaps. Quasicrystals — like pentagonal tiles. They can’t connect as connected triangles and squares. However, in this structure, the spaces are filled with atoms of other substances forming as a result, for example, that such forms”:

And here’s a picture of novoanninskogo structure of the quasicrystal with the symmetry of the fifth order:

Despite the fact that the quasicrystals are very rare in nature (at least on Earth), they are very easy to create in laboratory conditions. Currently, synthetic quasicrystals are used in almost everything, from the production of pans and ending with the production of LED bulbs.

When scientists studied the composition of a new quasicrystal, they confirmed that it consists of a combination of atoms of aluminium, copper and iron, United in a pentagonal shape as those that can be found, for example, in a soccer balls. In nature such a structure of quasicrystals was discovered for the first time. But the finding suggests that we do not understand about this bizarre form of matter.