A documentary on our research on quasicrystals by Alexander Tuschinski
Quasicrystals are somewhat paradoxical structures which exhibit many amazing properties distinguishing them from ordinary crystals. Although the atoms are not localized at periodic positions, quasicrystals posses perfect long-range order. Until the early 1980s it was unanimously established that ordered matter is always periodic. Accordingly, the rotational symmetry in real space was thought to be limited to n = 2, 3, 4 and 6. However more than a hundred complex metal alloys, for instance the discretely diffracting icosahedral AlPdMn or decagonal AlNiCo, have defied these crystallographic rules and self-organized into quasicrystals. Quasicrystalline structures have been theoretically predicted also in systems with a single type of particles. Nevertheless, experimentally their spontaneous formation has been only observed in binary, ternary or even more complex alloys. Accordingly, their surfaces exhibit a high degree of structural and chemical complexity and show intriguing properties. In order to understand the origin of those characteristics it would be helpful to create artificial quasicrystals in which the structure and the chemical aspects are disentangled. This can be achieved, for e.g., by exposing colloidal monolayers to quasicrystalline light fields. Apart from understanding how quasicrystalline properties can be transferred to such monolayers, this approach might allow fabrication of materials with novel properties.
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2011 was awarded to Dan Shechtman "for the discovery of quasicrystals".