Scientists witness nature's complexity unfold in self-assembling quasicrystals

Scientists witness nature's complexity unfold in self-assembling quasicrystals
These images show various magnified views of quasicrystals self-assembled from spherical nanoparticles. The team of Scientists from the University of Chicago, Argonne National Lab and University of Pennsylvania continue to discover new examples of quasicrystalline materials, once thought to be impossible. The scale bars are in nanometers. A DNA molecule measures approximately two nanometers in diameter. (Dmitri Talapin, University of Chicago)

( -- Just a few decades ago, scientists believed that all ordered matter consists of self-repeating building blocks -- atoms, ions or molecules. In this view, the ordinary solids of everyday life are arranged in crystals of repeating, three -- dimensional patterns.

Scientists challenged this once-believed universal law of nature when they discovered an “impossible” material whose existence could not be explained by periodic arrangement of atoms. These materials, later named quasicrystals, follow different, mathematically strict yet non-repeating patterns.

Since then, quasicrystals have been discovered in approximately 100 synthetic intermetallic compounds and, in 2009, in a geological specimen. But questions remained. How and why do they form, are they stable, and what is their precise ?

Now the University of Chicago’s Dmitri Talapin and his colleagues have created quasicrystals out of self-assembling for the first time. Self-assembly techniques harness nature’s own tendencies to develop novel materials. The techniques also promise to reveal new details of quasicrystals’ atomic structure in a way that elude even the most powerful microscopy techniques.

“Here we have nature working for us and creating all this amazing complexity,” said Talapin, assistant professor in chemistry at the University of Chicago. He and colleagues at Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Pennsylvania report their findings in a recent issue of the journal Nature.

The UChicago-Argonne-Penn team synthesized spherical nanoparticles of several different materials and coaxed them to self-assemble into quasicrystals. “We figured out the fundamental rules of what governs the self-assembly of quasicrystals,” Talapin said. “Nature forces these random spheres to pack together into really complex, three-dimensional patterns.”

Because quasicrystals are rare, scientists have not yet fully explored their properties. However, existing experimental and theoretical studies point to the possibilities of achieving unprecedented mechanical, optical and electronic properties.

This exploration would greatly benefit from a better understanding of fundamental rules governing the formation of quasicrystals, said Talapin. Their study continues to give scientists a new appreciation for the complexity and beauty of solids, which form the basis of modern life and technology.

“Crystals are the key materials for a huge list of applications. We rely on crystals in our computers, in our watches, in cars, on streets, everywhere. What new opportunities can quasicrystals bring to us?”

More information: “Quasicrystalline order in self-assembled binary nanoparticle superlattices,” by Dmitri V. Talapin, Elena V. Shevchenko, Maryna I. Bodnarchuk, Xingchen Ye, Jun Chen, and Christopher B. Murray, Nature, Oct. 15, 2009.

Provided by University of Chicago (news : web)

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Oct 31, 2009
Interesting! I do recall, too, that there are suggestions that xray diffraction patterns of quasicrystals, although quite different from normal crystals, can be explained by math that represents a filtering of the pattern from a 5th dimension in spacetime.
Resembling fractal patterns, they are not fractal at all, under careful observation.
Btw, the rear cover of the gPhone is engraved with such a pattern .. at least on my G1 Dev gPhone ..
Anyone wanna comment???

Nov 01, 2009
Gorgeous result, and it's clear from the pictures
what is going on.
Everything old is new again. Who imagined that islamic architecture had
anything to do with quasicrystals, until quasicrystals were discovered?

Nov 02, 2009
...And the dynamic backdrop of the 'aether' returns to the forefront. Like it always was. Aetherically applied dynamics create order.

Einstein had to drop both special and general relativity to make a working unified field theory, he had to go back and embrace Maxwell's FULL equations (not the shortened and unworkable modern version-look it up!!!! I kid you not!).

When he did that-he ended up with a fully working and fully engineerable Unified Field Theory. He did this in 1927-1928, and introduced it in Russia, at a conference - of all places.

Then the lid shut down on theorists expounding on their thoughts, with regards to sharing such evolved thinking. That was the pre-war panic of 30's Europe. THAT is what killed open science and unified field work --political, corporate and secretive gov lab aspects.

Einstein went on to become a founding member of the Builderburgs. Think about what that means.

Once again (hundreds of times!), we find science pointing straight at Aether Theory.

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