In chunks of rock quarried from a Russian mountain range, physicists have found perfect “quasicrystals,” a type of material that researchers previously thought could only be created in a lab. […] Quasicrystals were first created in the lab in 1984, and physicist Paul Steinhardt, a coauthor of the current study, says the hunt for naturally occurring quasicrystals began about 10 years ago. […] One of those samples was a mineral called khatyrkite that contained tiny grains of an alloy made of aluminium, copper, and iron, and which was found in the Koryak Mountains in Siberia. As researchers explain in their study, published in Science, the khatyrkite’s diffraction patterns almost exactly matched those of synthetic quasicrystals made in the lab.
Anything we can do, nature can do September 3, 2009
The 80 beats blog of the Discover magazine reports another one of those scenarios where our illusion of one-upmanship has been shattered by nature.
Scientists are yet to understand the natural forces and processes behind formation of these crystals. Understanding these processes will help in synthesis of new materials.