Why in news ?
- Recently scientists have reported the third natural source of quasicrystals.
MORE ABOUT THE NEWS:
- In a quasicrystal, atoms are arranged in a pattern that repeats itself at irregular intervals.
- It is a material once deemed impossible and whose unusual properties scientists are still unravelling.
- Generally, in a crystal the atoms are arranged in a pattern that periodically repeats itself.
- Quasicrystals were discovered in the lab in 1982.
- In the late 1990s, scientists began looking for quasicrystals in nature.
- After a decade long quest, Luca Bindi, Paul Steinhardt, and others reported finding the first natural quasicrystal in 2009.
HOW ARE QUASICRYSTALS FORMED?
- Quasicrystal, also called quasiperiodic crystal, matter formed atomically in a manner somewhere between the amorphous solids of glasses (special forms of metals and other minerals, as well as common glass) and the precise pattern of crystals.
- It get produced after a meteorite involved in several collisions in space over millions of years, heating and pressurizing it to a great degree and creating the quasicrystals.
- Physicists also used ‘shock synthesis’ to create new varieties of quasicrystals in the lab.
- Quasicrystals are found most often in aluminium alloys (Al-Li-Cu, Al-Mn-Si, Al-Ni-Co, Al-Pd-Mn, Al-Cu-Fe, Al-Cu-V, etc.)
- In 2021, Dr. Bindi, Dr. Steinhardt, and others reported finding a quasicrystal in the remains of the first nuclear weapon test conducted on July 16, 1945 in New Mexico.
USES OF QUASICRYSTALS:
- Quasicrystals have been used in surgical instruments, LED lights and non stick frying pans.
- Quasicrystals were also being used to develop heat insulation, LEDs, diesel engines, and new materials that convert heat to electricity.
- Other potential applications include selective solar absorbers for power conversion, broad-wavelength reflectors, and bone repair and prostheses applications where biocompatibility, low friction and corrosion resistance are required.
- They have poor heat conductivity, which makes them good insulators.
SYLLABUS: PRELIMS, SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY