Natural Quasicrystals

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Quasicrystals are solids whose atomic arrangements have symmetries forbidden for periodic crystals, including configurations with five-fold symmetry. All examples identified to date have been synthesized in the laboratory under controlled conditions. Here we present evidence of a naturally-occurring icosahedral quasicrystal that includes six distinct five-fold symmetry axes. The mineral, an alloy of aluminum, copper and iron, occurs as micron-sized grains associated with crystalline khatyrkite and cupalite in samples from the Koryak mountains in Russia. The results demonstrate that quasicrystals can form and remain stable under geologic conditions.

“Exotic Quasicrystal May Represent New Type of Mineral,” Scientific American  (Jun 2009)
“Ecco il quasicristallo che nasce in natura,” Corriere della Sera [Italy]  (Jun 2009)

Peter J. Lu  |  Harvard University  |  Cambridge, MA 02138 USA |