US Dept. of Energy scientists discover new family of rare-earth quasicrystals

US Department of Energy (DOE) scientists have found a new family of rare-earth quasicrystals, providing a “matched set” with “closely related periodic cousins,” icosahedeal binary quasicrystals.

The discovery was published in an article in the journal Nature Materials¬†entitled¬†“A family of binary magnetic icosahedral quasicrystals based on rare earth and cadmium.”

The discovery allows scientists to to properly compare structure and magnetic properties between quasicrystal and its “periodic approximant.’

Rare-earth quasicrystals are intriguing because they appear to have come from space.

And they differ from standard crystals in that their arrangement lacks “translational symmetry.” In other words, a shifted copy will never perfectly match the original.

This type of atomic level pattern was long considered to be impossible, until Daniel Shechtman of the Technion Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa spotted its occurrence in an alloy. Shechtman won a Nobel Prize for his work.