Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Quasicrystal mystery unraveled with computer simulation

10.03.2008
The method to the madness of quasicrystals has been a mystery to scientists. Quasicrystals are solids whose atoms aren't arranged in a repeating pattern, as they are in ordinary crystals. Yet they form intricate patterns that are technologically useful.

A computer simulation performed by University of Michigan scientists has given new insights into how this unique class of solids forms. Quasicrystals incorporate clusters of atoms as they are, without rearranging them as regular crystals do, said Sharon Glotzer, a professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering.

Crystals form when liquids freeze into solids. When a normal crystal grows, a crystallite nucleus develops first. The atoms in the liquid attach one-by-one to the crystallite, as though following a template. If the atoms have already formed a cluster on their own, they must rearrange in order to fit the template. This is how a repeating pattern forms.

In the case of quasicrystals, though, atoms that have already formed stable shapes away from the crystallite can still bind to it. They don't have to make adjustments.

"In our simulations of quasicrystals, we observed that the atoms attach to the crystallite in large groups," said chemical engineering doctoral student Aaron Keys. "These groups have already formed locally stable arrangements, and the growing quasicrystal assimilates them with minimal rearrangement."

Because quasicrystals aren't as regimented as regular crystals, the solid can reach a "structural compromise," where liquid-like molecular arrangements are retained in the solid state. This allows quasicrystals to form more easily than regular crystals.

Quasicrystals are found in certain metal alloys that tend to resist wear and corrosion, and are used in non-stick coatings, for example. They also have high tensile strength, meaning high forces are required to stretch them to their breaking point.

"Learning how they grow will help us figure out to how engineer quasicrystalline structures from new building blocks, which could lead to a slew of new materials," Glotzer said.

Glotzer and Keys are authors of a paper on the research, "How do quasicrystals grow"," published in Physical Review Letters. Their paper is featured in an article in the current edition of the journal Nature.

Glotzer is also a professor in the departments of Materials Science and Engineering, Macromolecular Science and Engineering, and Physics.

Nicole Casal Moore | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.umich.edu
http://www.engin.umich.edu/dept/cheme/people/glotzer.html

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk
20.01.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP

nachricht Treated carbon pulls radioactive elements from water
20.01.2017 | Rice University

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>