P. DUMAS / EURELIOS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY P. DUMAS / EURELIOS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Cristome alloy. Nugget of the quasi-crystalline alloy Cristome. This is an alloy of aluminium and manganese which has an unusual atomic structure. The atoms of the constituent metals are arranged with a pentagonal geometry, meaning they cannot tessellate with each other. Most crystals are based on squares, rectangles, triangles or hexagons, which can join up completely, leaving no gaps in the structure. The unusual structure of Cristome gives it some very desirable properties. When applied as a surface coating, it imparts structural strength, resistance to scratching and heat, and a non-stick surface.
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