Nobel prize-winning crystals fell to earth in meteorites

By REUTERS
August 10, 2012 02:05

LONDON - The only known natural examples of a Nobel prize-winning crystal, now used in everyday objects like razor blades and non-stick frying pans, arrived on earth in meteorites, scientists have found.

Israeli scientist Dan Schechtman won the Nobel Prize for chemistry last year for creating quasicrystals, which are harder than standard crystals and have an unusual structure somewhere between the symmetry of crystals and more amorphous glasses.

Some researchers believe they could be used to produce materials that are more slippery than Teflon.

Until a few years ago they were thought not to exist in nature and the story of the search for them reads more like the script of an Indiana Jones movie than a research project, involving secret diaries and smugglers.

"That is a novel," Paul Steinhardt at Princeton University in the United States told Reuters.

The discovery of natural quasicrystals will be "a real shocker" for many geologists and those who synthesize them under laboratory conditions, he said.


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