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Ashley Yeager
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Crystal-crystal contact makes quasicrystal

RING OF TWELVE High-resolution scanning tunneling microscope images show the dodecagonal structure of a wide part of a newly formed quasicrystal (left) and a detailed view of one ring (right). The colored shapes represent the predicted arrangements in an ideal 12-sided structure.

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Crystals have atoms that are arranged in a predictable, repetitive pattern. Materials called quasicrystals have atoms packed in ordered, but unexpected patterns. Now scientists have made a quasicrystal at the interface of two normal crystalline materials.

In new work, appearing October 10 in Nature, scientists layered a compound called perovskite barium titanate onto a crystal layer of platinum and watched as a thin-filmed, 12-atom, dodecagon-structured quasicrystal grew at the edge of the two materials.

This kind of transformation could allow more conventional crystalline materials to move into the quasicrystal realm, the scientists argue. Quasicrystals have unusual electronic properties and won the scientist who first discovered the materials in nature the 2011 Nobel Prize in chemistry.

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