ABSTRACT: Superconductivity is ubiquitous as evidenced by the observation in many crystals including carrier-doped oxides and diamond. Amorphous solids are no exception. However, it remains to be discovered in quasicrystals, in which atoms are ordered over long distances but not in a periodically repeating arrangement. Here we report electrical resistivity, magnetization, and specific-heat measurements of Al-Zn-Mg quasicrystal, presenting convincing evidence for the emergence of bulk superconductivity at a very low transition temperature of [Formula: see text] K. We also find superconductivity in its approximant crystals, structures that are periodic, but that are very similar to quasicrystals. These observations demonstrate that the effective interaction between electrons remains attractive under variation of the atomic arrangement from periodic to quasiperiodic one. The discovery of the superconducting quasicrystal, in which the fractal geometry interplays with superconductivity, opens the door to a new type of superconductivity, fractal superconductivity.
Project description: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.
Project description:Since their discovery, quasicrystals have attracted continuous research interest due to their unique structural and physical properties. Recently, it was demonstrated that dodecagonal quasicrystals could be used as bandgap materials in next-generation photonic devices. However, a full understanding of the formation mechanism of quasicrystals is necessary to control their physical properties. Here we report the formation of a two-dimensional dodecagonal fullerene quasicrystal on a Pt3Ti(111) surface, which can be described in terms of a square-triangle tiling. Employing density functional theory calculations, we identify the complex adsorption energy landscape of the Pt-terminated Pt3Ti surface that is responsible for the quasicrystal formation. We demonstrate the presence of quasicrystal-specific phason strain, which provides the degree of freedom required to accommodate the quasicrystalline structure on the periodic substrate. Our results reveal detailed insight into an interface-driven formation mechanism and open the way to the creation of tailored fullerene quasicrystals with specific physical properties.
Project description:Excitation and manipulation of surface plasmons (SPs) are essential in developing cutting-edge plasmonic devices for medical diagnostics, biochemical spectroscopy and communications. The most common approach involves designing an array of periodic slits or grating apertures that enables coupling of the incident light to the SP modes. In recent years, plasmonic resonances, including extraordinary optical transmission through periodic arrays, quasicrystals and random aperture arrays, have been investigated in the free space. However, most of the studies have been limited to the far field detection of the transmission resonance. Here, we perform near-field measurements of the SPs on quasicrystal metasurfaces. We discover that the reciprocal vector determines the propagation modes of the SPs in the quasicrystal lattice which can be well explained by the quasi-momentum conservation rule. Our findings demonstrate vast potential in developing plasmonic metasurfaces with unique device functionalities that are controlled by the propagation modes of the SPs in quasicrystals.
Project description:The refined x-ray crystal structure of the phase Mg(27)Al(10.7(2))Zn(47.3(2)) (Pa3) establishes it as the new 2/1 Bergman-type approximant of the icosahedral quasicrystal. The primitive cubic lattice consists of condensed triacontahedral and novel prolate rhombohedral (PR) clusters. Each triacontahedron encapsulates the traditional, multiply endohedral Bergman-type clusters, and each PR encapsulates an Al(2) dimer. This phase exhibits the same long-range order as recently established for the Tsai-type Sc-Mg-Zn 2/1 approximant crystal, with substantial geometric and atomic distribution differences between the two only in the short range orders. This common feature suggests that Bergman- and Tsai-type quasicrystals may be more similar than earlier conceived. Factors germane to the formation of, and the differences between, Bergman- vs. Tsai-type 1/1 and 2/1 approximate structures are considered, including notably different distributions of the more electropositive elements.
Project description:This study presents a unique Mg-based alloy composition in the Mg-Zn-Yb system which exhibits bulk metallic glass, metastable icosahedral quasicrystals (iQCs), and crystalline approximant phases in the as-cast condition. Microscopy revealed a smooth gradual transition from glass to QC. We also report the complete melting of a metastable eutectic phase mixture (including a QC phase), generated via suppression of the metastable-to-stable phase transition at high heating rates using fast differential scanning calorimetry (FDSC). The melting temperature and enthalpy of fusion of this phase mixture could be measured directly, which unambiguously proves its metastability in any temperature range. The kinetic pathway from liquid state to stable solid state (an approximant phase) minimizes the free-energy barrier for nucleation through an intermediate state (metastable QC phase) because of its low solid-liquid interfacial energy. At high undercooling of the liquid, where diffusion is limited, another approximant phase with near-liquid composition forms just above the glass-transition temperature. These experimental results shed light on the competition between metastable and stable crystals, and on glass formation via system frustration associated with the presence of several free-energy minima.
Project description:Quasicrystals and their approximants have triggered widespread interest due to the challenge of solving their complex crystal structures as well as their possibly exceptional properties. The structural motifs of approximants are similar to those of the corresponding quasicrystals, but to what extent are their crystallization pathways the same? Unfortunately, there have been very few in situ experimental investigations to answer this question. Here, by leveraging the high penetrating power of hard X-rays, synchrotron-based X-ray tomography was conducted in order to capture the nucleation and growth of a decagonal quasicrystal and its related approximant. The combination of data-driven computational analysis with new thermodynamic databases allowed the characterization, with high precision, of the constitutional and kinetic driving forces for crystallization. The experimental results prove that the growth of both crystals from a liquid is dominated by first-order kinetics. Nevertheless, and somewhat surprisingly, significant differences were observed in their rates of nucleation and growth. The reasons for such divergent behaviours are discussed in light of contemporary theories of intermetallic crystallization.
Project description:The structure of a complicated quasicrystal approximant epsilon(16) was predicted from a known and related quasicrystal approximant epsilon(6) by the strong-reflections approach. Electron-diffraction studies show that in reciprocal space, the positions of the strongest reflections and their intensity distributions are similar for both approximants. By applying the strong-reflections approach, the structure factors of epsilon(16) were deduced from those of the known epsilon(6) structure. Owing to the different space groups of the two structures, a shift of the phase origin had to be applied in order to obtain the phases of epsilon(16). An electron-density map of epsilon(16) was calculated by inverse Fourier transformation of the structure factors of the 256 strongest reflections. Similar to that of epsilon(6), the predicted structure of epsilon(16) contains eight layers in each unit cell, stacked along the b axis. Along the b axis, epsilon(16) is built by banana-shaped tiles and pentagonal tiles; this structure is confirmed by high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM). The simulated precession electron-diffraction (PED) patterns from the structure model are in good agreement with the experimental ones. Epsilon(16) with 153 unique atoms in the unit cell is the most complicated approximant structure ever solved or predicted.
Project description:Quasicrystals differ from conventional crystals and amorphous materials in that they possess long-range order without periodicity. They exhibit orders of rotational symmetry which are forbidden in periodic crystals, such as five-, ten-, and twelve-fold, and their structures can be described with complex aperiodic tilings such as Penrose tilings and Stampfli-Gaehler tilings. Previous theoretical work explored the structure and properties of a hypothetical four-fold symmetric quasicrystal-the so-called Fibonacci square grid. Here, we show an experimental realisation of the Fibonacci square grid structure in a molecular overlayer. Scanning tunnelling microscopy reveals that fullerenes (C60) deposited on the two-fold surface of an icosahedral Al-Pd-Mn quasicrystal selectively adsorb atop Mn atoms, forming a Fibonacci square grid. The site-specific adsorption behaviour offers the potential to generate relatively simple quasicrystalline overlayer structures with tunable physical properties and demonstrates the use of molecules as a surface chemical probe to identify atomic species on similar metallic alloy surfaces.
Project description:A set of X-ray data collected on a fragment of decagonite, Al<sub>71</sub>Ni<sub>24</sub>Fe<sub>5</sub>, the only known natural decagonal quasicrystal found in a meteorite formed at the beginning of the Solar System, allowed us to determine the first structural model for a natural quasicrystal. It is a two-layer structure with decagonal columnar clusters arranged according to the pentagonal Penrose tiling. The structural model showed peculiarities and slight differences with respect to those obtained for other synthetic decagonal quasicrystals. Interestingly, decagonite is found to exhibit low linear phason strain and a high degree of perfection despite the fact it was formed under conditions very far from those used in the laboratory.
Project description:How does a quasicrystal grow? Despite the decades of research that have been dedicated to this area of study, it remains one of the fundamental puzzles in the field of crystal growth. Although there has been no lack of theoretical studies on quasicrystal growth, there have been very few experimental investigations with which to test their various hypotheses. In particular, evidence of the in situ and three-dimensional (3D) growth of a quasicrystal from a parent liquid phase is lacking. To fill-in-the-gaps in our understanding of the solidification and melting pathways of quasicrystals, we performed synchrotron-based X-ray imaging experiments on a decagonal phase with composition of Al-15at%Ni-15at%Co. High-flux X-ray tomography enabled us to observe both growth and melting morphologies of the 3D quasicrystal at temperature. We determined that there is no time-reversal symmetry upon growth and melting of the decagonal quasicrystal. While quasicrystal growth is predominantly dominated by the attachment kinetics of atomic clusters in the liquid phase, melting is instead barrier-less and limited by buoyancy-driven convection. These experimental results provide the much-needed benchmark data that can be used to validate simulations of phase transformations involving this unique phase of matter.