Lightning creates material that does not exist on Earth

The impact of lightning on a high-voltage line, when one of the cables fell to the ground, gave rise to the formation of an exotic material. Until now, the formation of this type of material was unknown on our planet.

The event happened in 2021 in SandHills National Park (Nebraska, USA), when the unexpected incident caused the melting sand grains in a dune.

A team of researchers from the Università di Firenze (Italy), the University of South Florida, the California Institute of Technology and Princeton University arrived at the site, which detected that a quasi-crystal was formed during the accidental electric shock.

What is a quasicrystal

Quasicrystals, as their name suggests, are substances or elements that, in terms of internal structure, confusingly resemble true crystals. However, if you look closely, exhibit characteristics not found in ordinary crystalsFor example, its atoms are arranged like a mosaic, in regular patterns that never repeat in the same way.

So far only found quasicrystals in the waste of nuclear and other explosions of extraterrestrial origin, since they have been found in meteorites.

this new way the structure of matter is dodecagonal, that is, with 12-sided symmetry. So far, they had only encountered five-string symmetry.

The researchers also revealed that the quasicrystal contains manganese, silicon, chromium, aluminum and nickel.

Diffraction pattern of the quasicrystal, showing its 12-sided symmetry. Credit: Luca Bindi/PNAS.

formed at high temperature

According to scientists, the quasicrystal was found inside a tubular piece of fulguritewhich also formed during an electrical surge due to the melting of molten sand and metal from the power line.

By looking at the quasicrystal under an electron microscope, the researchers found fragments of silicon dioxide glass in its composition, so they deduced that the temperatures inside the sand dune that received the electrical discharge must have reached at least 1,710 degrees Celsius.

Cross section of the element, with the quasicrystalline material in the upper central part, surrounding the remnants of the molten cable. Credit: PNAS.

Luca BindiThe study’s lead scientist and professor of mineralogy in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Florence, said the discovery is really significant given that “the quasicrystal had a composition never seen before.”

Bindi also said that the research data suggests in which directions the study of other quasicrystals could go and provides more evidence for developing technologies capable of synthesizing them and using them in industry.

A striker is the origin of an extraordinary new material. The scoperta, directed by Luca Bindi, professor of mineralogy, read the last chapter of its history #quasicristalli ed è al centro di un pubblicazione sulla rivista @PNASNews

— University of Florence (@UNI_FIRENZE) December 28, 2022

The results of the study have been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

References: La Vanguardia / Huffington post.

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