Previously unknown quasicrystal periodic approximant found in space

Luca Bindi, Joyce Pham, Paul J. Steinhardt

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Abstract

We report the discovery of Al34Ni9Fe2, the first natural known periodic crystalline approximant to decagonite (Al71Ni24Fe5), a natural quasicrystal composed of a periodic stack of planes with quasiperiodic atomic order and ten-fold symmetry. The new mineral has been approved by the International Mineralogical Association (IMA 2018-038) and officially named proxidecagonite, which derives from its identity to periodic approximant of decagonite. Both decagonite and proxidecagonite were found in fragments from the Khatyrka meteorite. Proxidecagonite is the first natural quasicrystal approximant to be found in the Al-Ni-Fe system. Within this system, the decagonal quasicrystal phase has been reported to transform at ~940 °C to Al13(Fe,Ni)4, Al3(Fe,Ni)2 and the liquid phase, and between 800 and 850 °C to Al13(Fe,Ni)4, Al3(Fe,Ni) and Al3(Fe,Ni)2. The fact that proxidecagonite has not been observed in the laboratory before and formed in a meteorite exposed to high pressures and temperatures during impact-induced shocks suggests that it might be a thermodynamically stable compound at high pressure. The most prominent structural motifs are pseudo-pentagonal symmetry subunits, such as pentagonal bipyramids, that share edges and corners with trigonal bipyramids and which maximize shortest Ni–Al over Ni–Ni contacts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number16271
JournalScientific reports
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

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