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The Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) is the world's leading facility in neutron science and technology. It operates the most intense neutron source on earth in Grenoble in the south-east of France.

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12 October 2011 16:04 Age: 5 yrs

Quasicrystals and the ILL

The Institut Laue-Langevin would like to add its congratulations to Daniel Shechtman on the award of his Nobel Prize for Chemistry.
Shechtman's discovery of quasicrystals was an extremely important step in fundamental solid-state chemistry and physics, and it has changed the way we see crystals and long range order.

There has been substantial related work done in this area both with neutrons at the ILL and with x-rays at the neighbouring ESRF. This work has uncovered invaluable information on the structure and dynamics of these fascinating materials.

ILL has been involved from the very beginning in 1986, when Christian Janot, Jean-Marie Dubois and Jean Pannetier recorded one of the first neutron diffraction patterns on the AlMnSi icosahedral quasicrystals, using isomorphic substitution. This initiated a long-term research programme on quasicrystals at the ILL.

Marc de Boissieu (today a CNRS researcher at SIMAP - CNRS/Grenoble INP/ UJF), has been supervising PhD students in a series of elastic and inelastic neutron scattering experiments. The experiments, led by scientists from Europe and Japan, have been focusing on the structure and dynamics of icosahedral AlLiCu, AlPdMn, ZnMgY, decagonal AlNiCo, and, more recently, the ZnMgSc icosahedral phases. Recent simulations at the atomic scale have provided a detailed understanding of the structure and peculiar dynamics of quasicrystals. 

Another type of quasicrystals has just been revealed at ILL: at D11 with its new detector an international research group led by Professor Stephan Förster of the University of Bayreuth, working with Peter Lindner from ILL, has discovered colloidal water-based quasi-crystals with 12-fold diffraction symmetry for the first time! In contrast to the quasi-crystals previously documented, which can only be produced under special laboratory conditions, they are simply structured polymers that evolve through self-assembly. Due to their structural characteristics, they will probably be used in the development of innovative devices in photonics. “The availability of sophisticated rheo-SANS equipment at ILL was a prerequisite of this discovery” underlines Peter Lindner, D11 instrument responsible. [See more].

3-D view of the clusters in the quasicrystal - Takakura et al, Nature Mat, 2007. Copyright Nature Mat.