Background Information

In the physics and materials science communities,* "quasicrystal" refers to a class of binary and higher-order metallic alloys, most of which contain 60 to 70 atomic per cent aluminum (Al). These alloys are well-ordered structures which fall outside the realm of conventional crystallography. Their uniqueness stems from the fact that they exhibit rotational symmetries, most commonly five-fold symmetry, which are not consistent with periodic structures. They are a relatively new class of materials, first discovered in 1982 (by Shechtman--see reference below). Recent developments indicate that quasicrystals are promising candidates for applications as coatings, metal matrix components, hydrogen storage materials, thermal barriers, infrared sensors, and other functions. Some applications are already on the market--high-strength Al alloys, cookware, surgical tools, and electric shavers.


*In the soil science community, "quasicrystal" refers to a class of alumino-silicate mineral, the smectites. The term has been used in that community since 1971. The smectites are NOT the type of quasicrystal we are talking about here. Click here to see references to smectite quasicrystals.

More background on quasicrystals is available on the Web, and in the literature:


I. Hargittai, Editor, Fivefold Symmetry, World Scientific, Singapore (1992).

C. Janot, Quasicrystals: A Primer, 2nd edition, Clarendon Press, Oxford (1994).

Z.M. Stadnik, Editor, Physical Properties of Quasicrystals, Springer: Berlin, 1999.

Journal articles

I.R. Fisher, M.J. Kramer and A.I. Goldman, "Recent Advanaces in the Study of Quasicrystals," Micron., Vol. 31 (2000), pages 469-473.

D. Shechtman, I. Blech, D. Gratias and J. W. Cahn, Phys. Rev. Lett. Vol. 53 (1984) page 1951. (This is the seminal article in the field. It reported the discovery of quasicrystals.)

D. J. Sordelet and J. M. Dubois, Editors, MRS Bulletin Vol. 22, No. 11, 1997. (This entire issue is devoted to the topic of quasicrystals, containing 8 excellent review articles.)

A. I. Goldman, J. W. Anderegg, M. F. Besser, S.-L. Chang, D. W. Delaney, C. J. Jenks, M. J. Kramer, T. A. Lograsso, D. W. Lynch, R. W. McCallum, J. E. Shield, D. J. Sordelet and P. A. Thiel, "Quasicrystalline Materials," American Scientist, Vol. 84, (1996) pages 230-241.

A. I. Goldman and K. F. Kelton, "Quasicrystals and Crystalline Approximants," Reviews of Modern Physics Vol. 65 (1993) pages 213-230.

A. I. Goldman and M. Widom, "Quasicrystal Structure and Properties," Ann. Rev. Phys. Chem. Vol. 42 (1991) pages 685-729.

P. W. Stephens and A. I. Goldman, "The Structure of Quasicrystals," Scientific American (April 1991) pages 24-31.

Key patents.

J. M. Dubois and P. Weinland, CNRS, Nancy, France, "Coating materials for metal alloys and metals and method," European Patent EP 0356287 A1 and US Patent 5204191, (April 20 1993).

J. Shield, A. Goldman, I. Anderson, T. Ellis, R. McCallum, D. Sordelet, "Method of making quasicrystalline powders, protective coatings, and articles," U.S. Patent No. 5,433,978 (1995).

S.B. Biner, D.J. Sordelet, and B.K. Lograsso, "Quasicrystal Reinforcd Aluminum and Aluminum Composites," U.S. Patent 5,851,317.

V. Sheares and P. Bloom, "Quasicrystal/Polymer Composite Materials and Methods," Intellectual Disclosure and record Filed with Office of Intellectural Property and Technology Transfer, U.S. Patent filed Sept. 7, 1999.

References to smectite quasicrystals.

Aylmore, L.A.G., and J.P. Quirk. 1971. "Domains and quasicrystalline regions in clay systems." Soil Sci. Soc. Am. Proc. 35:652-654.

Sposito, G. 1984. The Surface Chemistry of Soils. Oxford University Press, New York.

Ben Rhaiem, H., C.H. Pons, and D. Tessier. 1987. "Factors affecting the microstructure of smectites: Role of cation and history of applied stresses." p. 292-297. In L.G. Schultz, H. van Olphen, and F.A. Mumpton (eds.) Proc. Int. Clay Conf. Denver, 1985. The Clay Minerals Society, Bloomington, Indiana.