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The Quasicrystal

14 January 2012

A rock from a mineral collection donated to a museum in Florence has an origin in the Koryan mountains in the Kamchatka peninsular. It was recently found to include grains of icosahedrite, a quasicrystalline mineral that was first discovered in a laboratory, according to a paper in PNAS – see www.physorg.com/print245661710.html. It is the inner structure of these minerals that is novel as rather than being clusters of atoms as in ordinary crystals their composition is much more intricate and can form strange shapes such as a 20 sided icosahedron – with the symmetry of a ball. The concept of quasicrystals has been theorised for many years but was firt produced sythetically by Dan Schechtman – which helped him win a Nobel Prize in 2011. It is thought the quasicrystal specimen has an origin in a meteorite – see also www.dailygalaxy.com January 13th, which was a surprising result as it had a configuration of copper, iron and aluminum. It is thought that in nature it is unusual to have metallic aluminum as it is usually found as aluminum oxide. Tracting the rock back to its roots it was found it had been dug out of a thick layer of blue green clay. Last summer an expedition gathered further samples for analysis – and therefore we shall hear more in due course.

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