Nuclear detonations unleash an astonishing amount of destructive force. But the extreme pressure and temperature that they generate also make nuclear blasts a cauldron of chemical creation, capable of delivering new and surprising scientific discoveries. Now, scientists sifting through debris at the site of the first-ever nuclear bomb detonation – held in New Mexico in July 1945 and named the Trinity test – have unearthed a different chemical oddity. The discovery of a previously unknown type of “quasicrystal” – a crystal formation once thought impossible due to its irregular geometric structure.
- Quasicrystals were discovered by Dan Schechtman in 1984 and when he first found them they were seen as very controversial, some even though impossible.
- Crystals are composed of units that repeat in three dimensions. Three-dimensional crystal structures adhere to the same repetition rule as a single dimension.
- A new quasicrystal was found within a glassy material which is red trininite and it was sourced from a nuclear blast back in 1945.
“In the 1950s, for instance, scientists examining debris from US hydrogen bomb tests found two new elements, which now occupy numbers 99 and 100 in the periodic table.”