The experiments spins off from the study of samples of the meteorite Khatyrka found in far east Russia and containing quasicrystals, a particular kind of material in which atoms are set in a non-periodical manner and whose first known natural sample is part of the collections of the Museum of Natural History at the University of Florence.
“The meteorite containing the crystal – explains Luca Bindi – shows the typical features of an impact among extraterrestrial bodies formation ambient, where high temperatures and pressures are reached. Starting from this observation we have pursued our studies seeking a technique offering a proof of this hypothesis. After six months of lab preparation - continues Bindi - we were able to continue with the experiment. We exploded a bullet at 900m/s against materials reproducing the composition observed in the meteorite containing the natural quasicrystals, thus recreating analogous conditions to those occurred during the formation of the Khatyrka meteorite at the dawn of the solar system.”
The innovative aspect of the research lies not only in the nature of the experiment but also in the fact that from the laboratory-created shock a new quasicrystal was formed, with a never reported before composition, which took 18 months of study to be described.
“The experiment displayed the opportunity to produce in extreme conditions materials with unknown chemical compositions. The creation of such minerals could offer important information on important geochemical mechanisms occurred during the initial stages of the solar system. At the same time the discovery opens the way to new production processes in the sectors interested by the use of quasicrystals.”