JOHNNY SETTLE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JOHNNY SETTLE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Quasicrystal structure, animation. The quasicrystal is made up to two kinds of polyhedral cluster. The first type is shown growing around a central atom at the start. It is composed of an icosahedral cage of blue atoms surrounded by a dodecahedral cage of red atoms. The growth of these highlights the pentagonal geometry of their vertices and faces respectively. The camera pulls back to reveal how this is reflected in the pentagonal arrangement of the second, larger, type of cluster around the first. The view keeps pulling back to reveal the complexity of the structure on a larger scale. Quasicrystals are ordered arrangements of atoms and clusters that lack the strict translational symmetry of classical regular crystals. That means that a copy of a given region of a quasicrystal will not exactly match a neighbouring region to which it is shifted. The discovery and description of quasicrystals led to a paradigm shift in chemistry. Dan Shechtman won the 2011 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his work on quasicrystals.
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