The so far only natural quasicrystal, the icosahedrite (Al63Cu24Fe13), was found in a rock sample composed mainly of khatyrkite (crystalline (Cu,Zn)Al2) in eastern Russia in 1979. All other known quasicrystals have been synthesised in lab environments.
Paul J Steinhardt, Princeton University, NJ, USA, and Luca Bindi, Università di Firenze, Italy, visited the source of the naturally occurring quasicrystal. Based on the conditions required for the natural formation of quasicrystals, the team reported evidence that the quasicrystal must have fallen from space. For formation of the metallic aluminum alloys extreme reducing conditions were needed.
The reseachers found further naturally occurring samples of quasicrystal. Analysis showed that the samples originate from a 4.5-billion-year-old meteorite that fell to Earth around 15,000 years ago.
- In search of natural quasicrystals,
Paul J Steinhardt, Luca Bindi,
Rep. Prog. Phys. 2012, 75, 092601.
Also of interest:
- Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2011
ChemViews magazine 2012
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded to Dan Shechtman, Israel Institute of Technology, for the discovery of quasicrystals