QUASICRYSTALS

QUASICRYSTALS

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

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