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Scientists discover new family of quasicrystals

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Posted June 11, 2013
The pentagonal dodecahedral morphology of the icosahedral phase is shown with a millimeter scale; grains as large as 1.0 mm have been grown. Credit: Ames Laboratory, USDOE

The pentagonal dodecahedral morphology of the icosahedral phase is shown with a millimeter scale; grains as large as 1.0 mm have been grown. Credit: Ames Laboratory, USDOE

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Ames Laboratory have discovered a new family of rare-earth quasicrystals using an algorithm they developed to help pinpoint them. Quasicrystalline materials may be found close to crystalline phases that contain similar atomic motifs, called crystalline approximants. And just like fishing experts know that casting a line in the right habitat hooks the big catch, the scientists used their knowledge to hone in on just the right spot for new quasicrystal materials discovery.

Their research resulted in finding the only known magnetic rare earth icosahedral binary quasicrystals, now providing a “matched set” of magnetic quasicrystals and their closely related periodic cousins.

The discovery has been published online by the journal Nature Materials in an article, “A family of binary magnetic icosahedral quasicrystals based on rare earth and cadmium.”

“This discovery of binary magnetic quasicrystals provides us with a means of doing a cleaner comparison of structural and magnetic properties between a quasicrystal and its periodic approximant,” said Alan Goldman, Ames Laboratory faculty scientist and a distinguished professor at Iowa State University. “It’s a tremendously exciting thing.”

Goldman is part of the Ames Laboratory’s research group which studies the microscopic properties of crystals through neutron and x-ray scattering performed at Argonne National Laboratory’s Advanced Photon Source. His collaborator, Ames Laboratory faculty scientist and Iowa State University distinguished professor Paul Canfield, was one of the first scientists able to grow single-grain, rare-earth quasicrystals, and his work continues in discovering, growing, and characterizing them.

Read more at: Phys.org

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