From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Quasicrystals
Mains level : NA
Scientists have discovered a new type of quasicrystal, one with 12-fold symmetry, in the Sand Hills of north central Nebraska, USA.
What is a Quasicrystal?
- Quasicrystal is essentially a crystal-like substance.
- However, unlike a crystal, in which atoms are arranged in a repeating pattern, a quasicrystal consists of atoms that are arranged in a pattern that doesn’t repeat itself regularly.
- For the longest time, physicists believed every crystalline arrangement of atoms must have a pattern that repeats itself perfectly over and over again.
- However, this changed in 1982, when material scientist Dan Shechtman discovered crystal structures that are mathematically regular, but that do not repeat themselves.
How are they formed?
- Electrical discharge triggered quasicrystal formation in the recent finding.
- It’s also the first time that researchers have found a quasicrystal somewhere other than meteorites or the debris from nuclear blasts.
Applications of quasicrystals
- There is no major commercial applications yet exploit properties of the quasicrystalline state directly.
- Quasicrystals form in compounds noted for their high strength and light weight, suggesting potential applications in aerospace and other industries.
- They can be used in surgical instruments, LED lights and non-stick frying pans.
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