Decagonite is the second natural quasicrystal, after icosahedrite (Al63Cu24Fe13), and the first to exhibit the crystallographically forbidden decagonal symmetry. It was found as rare fragments up to ∼60 mm across in one of the grains (labeled number 126) of the Khatyrka meteorite, a CV3 carbonaceous chondrite. The meteoritic grain contains evidence of a heterogeneous distribution of pressures and temperatures that occurred during impact shock, in which some portions of the meteorite reached at least 5 GPa and 1200 °C. Decagonite is associated with Al-bearing trevorite, diopside, forsterite, ahrensite, clinoenstatite, nepheline, coesite, pentlandite, Cu-bearing troilite, icosahedrite, khatyrkite, taenite, Al-bearing taenite, and steinhardtite. Given the exceedingly small size of decagonite, it was not possible to determine most of the physical properties for the mineral. A mean of seven electron microprobe analyses (obtained from three different fragments) gave the formula Al70.2(3)Ni24.5(4)Fe5.3(2), on the basis of 100 atoms. A combined TEM and single-crystal X-ray diffraction study revealed the unmistakable signature of a decagonal quasicrystal: a pattern of sharp peaks arranged in straight lines with 10-fold symmetry together with periodic patterns taken perpendicular to the 10-fold direction. For quasicrystals, by definition, the structure is not reducible to a single three-dimensional unit cell, so neither cell parameters nor Z can be given. The likely space group is P105/mmc, as is the case for synthetic Al71Ni24Fe5. The five strongest powder-diffraction lines [d in Å (I/I0)] are: 2.024 (100), 3.765 (50), 2.051 (45), 3.405 (40), 1.9799 (40). The new mineral has been approved by the IMA-NMNC Commission (IMA2015-017) and named decagonite for the 10-fold symmetry of its structure. The finding of a second natural quasicrystal informs the longstanding debate about the stability and robustness of quasicrystals among condensed matter physicists and demonstrates that mineralogy can continue to surprise us and have a strong impact on other disciplines.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geochemistry and Petrology
- X-ray diffraction
- chemical composition
- new mineral