'Impossible' crystals may be 'alien'.

Discussion in 'Chemistry' started by Exoscientist, Jan 13, 2012.

  1. Exoscientist Mathematician Registered Senior Member

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    139
    I intentionally phrased the title in a provocative way. The word
    'alien' can simply mean 'not of this Earth'.
    The discovery concerns quasicrystals, which were previously thought
    not to occur naturally but only under lab conditions. When you read
    the description of how they are created in the lab I think you'll
    understand why.
    In any case the article concerns some quasicrytals that were found in
    nature. Now it turns out those quasicrystals that were found may have
    come from space:

    ‘Impossible’ Crystals May Have Come From Space.
    by Paul Scott Anderson on January 4, 2012

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    A quasicrystal sample from the Koryak mountains in Russia. Credit: Paul Steinhardt, Princeton University
    http://www.universetoday.com/92383/impossible-crystals-may-have-come-from-space/



    Bob Clark
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2012
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  3. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    Every University in the world will want a chunk.
    It doesn't look like there's any melting or scorching on it though.
    Is that the only bit they found, or is there more of it?

    If it is the only piece, it is more valuable than diamonds.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2012
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  5. Pincho Paxton Banned Banned

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    It's part of an alien phaser gun.

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  7. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    Apparently, there is only one sample of it:

    Steinhardt and his team decided to start scanning databases of crystals in 1998 "to see if nature found ones that have not yet been discovered synthetically by trial and error," according to Steinhardt. Using x-ray and electron diffraction imaging techniques, the scientists searched for any crystals that had patterns indicative of quasicrystals.

    It took eight long years, but finally, in 2007, they sifted through a collection belonging to Luca Bindi of the University of Florence, which included a rock found in the Koryak Mountains. An alloy of aluminum, copper and iron, Its pattern clearly made it a quasicrystal.


    From http://news.discovery.com/space/russian-quasicrystals-might-come-from-space-120112.html


    Very interesting post.

    Lucky Luca. He has one of the most desirable meteorites ever found.

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    Luca Bindi

    From http://www.univie.ac.at/Mineralogie/EMU/bindi.htm
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2012
  8. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    Well, I liked your thread, even if no-one else did.

    Lesson to be learned:
    Don't use Irony in your thread title.
    Americans don't understand irony, AT ALL.

    Example. When an American Cop says "Stop or I Shoot"
    when you are doing something totally non-reprehensible like crossing the road,
    he is not making some ironic comment on the subject of TV dramatisations versus real life,
    he is getting ready to shoot you.
    Do NOT laugh at him and say "Book 'em Danno"
    The bullet will hurt, a lot.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2012
  9. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    22,875
  10. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    12,738
    Ah, we have another contributor.
    Welcome joepistole, to this most under-frequented abode!

    I mentioned these crystals before on the molecule thread.
    In fact, I commented on the irony of a Jewish scientist discovering crystals
    which look like beautiful Islamic tiles.

    The fact that they really exist in nature is news to celebrate, I think.
    I'm not sure why.

    The article you linked to said that developments are being impeded by a restrictive French patent.
    Would the discovery of this rock change that, I wonder? Probably not.
    Should people be allowed to patent natural materials?

    One of the characteristics of these materials is that they are very resistant to wear.
    If you make nano particles of them and embed them in plastic,
    the resulting material is also very resistant to wear.
    http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/38846/page2/
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2012
  11. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    Also, shouldn't this thread be in Chemistry?
     
  12. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    22,875
    Yeah it is an interesting discovery. I am surprised that it has gotten so little attention. But it also shows how science suffers from group think. No matter what our titles may be, we are in the end human with all of our biases and human frailties.

    And this French patent thing seems kind of odd to me too.
     
  13. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

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    10,890
    Icosahedrite on Wiki
    Khatyrkite on Wiki
    Look at that Xray diffraction pattern:

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    And its Structure:

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    Beautiful.

    It seems that the supposition that it has come to us from outer space comes from the other minerals it is associated with.

    Stishovite up until very recently at least, has generally been associated only with impact sites (but has recently been found as inclusions in diamonds).

    Looking forward to getting home and reading this: Bindi, L.; Paul J. Steinhardt, Nan Yao, Peter J. Lu (2011). "Icosahedrite, Al63Cu24Fe13, the first natural quasicrystal". American Mineralogist 96: 928–931. as my work servers won't let me open it.

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  14. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    This story would make a book that I'd like to read.
    (Me and about five others probably.)

    It's a great story.
    People ignored data because it didn't fit in with current theories.
    One "Maverick" decided that you shouldn't just ignore data because
    it is inconvenient, and after much trouble and ridicule, eventually grasped a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his pains.

    That this small fragment of a meteorite has been found,
    is a miracle in itself.
     
  15. Giambattista sssssssssssssssssssssssss sssss Valued Senior Member

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    Actually, I believe the general plot has been written a number of times, in various forms. It's called... the History of Science!
     
  16. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    Brilliant Title!
    Well done G.

    @Trippy
    1.How do these quasicrystals differ from alloys?
    Is there no chemical bonding in alloys?

    2. Do you know of any pure metal alloy which is not opaque?
    And do you think a quasicrystal could be made which was even partially translucent.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2012
  17. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

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    My understanding is they don't.
    My (albeit somewhat limited at 6.45am before my second coffee) understanding is that, aside from those that are defined as being glasses, all metals, and all metal alloys have crystaline structures. The quasi-crystals differ because 'traditionally' it was not expected that crystals with a C[sub]5[/sub] axis could exist. Crystallography traditionaly teaches that C[sub]1[/sub], C[sub]2[/sub], C[sub]3[/sub], C[sub]4[/sub], and C[sub]6[/sub] was the extent of it because they were shapes that stacked nicely, and left no gaps This also explained why nobody had ever found them (well, until 1982, it seems).

    I mean, sure, we had the pyritohedron:

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    But when you looked closely at it, it still had cubic symetry (or at least elements of cubic symetry), and the unit cell was still the same.

    No, and no idea.
    I do know, however, that the reflective properties of metals come from their free electrons.
     
  18. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    Some alloys have quite low conductivity.

    Silver
    105%
    Copper
    100%
    Gold
    70%
    Aluminum
    61%
    Nickel
    22 %
    Zinc
    27%
    Brass
    28%
    Iron
    17%
    Tin
    15%
    Phosphor Bronze
    15%
    Lead
    7%
    Nickel Alum. Bronze
    7%
    Steel
    3 to 15%

    I suppose it is possible that one could be an insulator.
     
  19. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

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    One of the more interesting properties of quasi crystals is that their properties can be anisotropic - they can, for example, condict electricity in one direction, but not another.
     
  20. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    I did read that.
    You could make very small switches with it.
    It occurred to me that it might have uses in information systems.
     
  21. wellwisher Banned Banned

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    5,160
    How does space offer better conditions for the formation of these crystals? In the lab, they needed to start out with exact compositions of atoms and use a controlled quench.

    I cannot see how space can create these two condition any easier than on the earth. With space, you have huge volumes of dust in empty space and the need to assemble precise materials. I don't see that being very easier. I also don't see the quench step, since how do the precise materials see a controlled drop in temperature, especially at the scales found in space? Space is hot or cold.

    Here is my scenario. Crystals have precise atomic compositions (minus impurities). Say we have two zones of adjacent materials. One zone, is made of element A and the other zone is made of elements AB. We heat these two adjacent zones. What we have is a concentration gradient relative to atom B, which will diffuse from zone AB into zone A. If AB and A are both stable, the diffusion coefficient will be slow so we get precise metering of atoms. All we need is a cooling or quenching to stop diffusion and both side are imbalanced forming the quasi-crystal.
     
  22. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

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    What makes you think it does?

    For one thing, while the evidence (eg the presence of Stishovite) is suggestive of meteoric origin, it's not neccessarily conclusive, as the requisite conditions can be found in the deep mantle (hence the significance of the Stishovite inclusions in Diamonds).
     
  23. wellwisher Banned Banned

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    Making exotic crystals in open space create difficult conditions. I was proposing a way to make these crystals. We need a way to create precise atomic ratios. This can be done with atomic diffusion of B from AB materials to A materials via a concentration gradient. At steady state you would get A2B on both sides.
     

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