We report the discovery of a dodecagonal quasicrystal Mn72.3Si15.6Cr9.7Al1.8Ni0.6-composed of a periodic stacking of atomic planes with quasiperiodic translational order and 12-fold symmetry along the two directions perpendicular to the planes-accidentally formed by an electrical discharge event in an eolian dune in the Sand Hills near Hyannis, Nebraska, United States. The quasicrystal, coexisting with a cubic crystalline phase with composition Mn68.9Si19.9Ni7.6Cr2.2Al1.4, was found in a fulgurite consisting predominantly of fused and melted sand along with traces of melted conductor metal from a nearby downed power line. The fulgurite may have been created by a lightning strike that combined sand with material from downed power line or from electrical discharges from the downed power line alone. Extreme temperatures of at least 1,710°C were reached, as indicated by the presence of SiO2 glass in the sample. The dodecagonal quasicrystal is an example of a quasicrystal of any kind formed by electrical discharge, suggesting other places to search for quasicrystals on Earth or in space and for synthesizing them in the laboratory.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Jan 3 2023|
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- electrical discharge
- solar system