Decagonite, Al71Ni24Fe5, a quasicrystal with decagonal symmetry from the Khatyrka CV3 carbonaceous chondrite

Luca Bindi, Nan Yao, Chaney Lin, Lincoln S. Hollister, Christopher L. Andronicos, Vadim V. Distler, Michael P. Eddy, Alexander Kostin, Valery Kryachko, Glenn J. MacPherson, William M. Steinhardt, Marina Yudovskaya and Paul J. Steinhardt

American Mineralogist
doi: 10.2138/am-2015-5423
v. 100 no. 10 p. 2340-2343


“Decagonite is the second natural quasicrystal, after icosahedrite (Al63Cu24Fe13), and the first to exhibit the crystallographically forbidden decagonal symmetry. It was found as rare fragments up to ~60 μm across in one of the grains (labeled number 126) of the Khatyrka meteorite, a CV3 carbonaceous chondrite. The meteoritic grain contains evidence of a heterogeneous distribution of pressures and temperatures that occurred during impact shock, in which some portions of the meteorite reached at least 5 GPa and 1200 °C. Decagonite is associated with Al-bearing trevorite, diopside, forsterite, ahrensite, clinoenstatite, nepheline, coesite, pentlandite, Cu-bearing troilite, icosahedrite, khatyrkite, taenite, Al-bearing taenite, and steinhardtite. Given the exceedingly small size of decagonite, it was not possible to determine most of the physical properties for the mineral. A mean of seven electron microprobe analyses (obtained from three different fragments) gave the formula Al70.2(3)Ni24.5(4)Fe5.3(2), on the basis of 100 atoms. A combined TEM and single-crystal X-ray diffraction study revealed the unmistakable signature of a decagonal quasicrystal: a pattern of sharp peaks arranged in straight lines with 10-fold symmetry together with periodic patterns taken perpendicular to the 10-fold direction. For quasicrystals, by definition, the structure is not reducible to a single three-dimensional unit cell, so neither cell parameters nor Z can be given. The likely space group is P105/mmc, as is the case for synthetic Al71Ni24Fe5. The five strongest powder-diffraction lines [d in Å (I/I0)] are: 2.024 (100), 3.765 (50), 2.051 (45), 3.405 (40), 1.9799 (40). The new mineral has been approved by the IMA-NMNC Commission (IMA2015-017) and named decagonite for the 10-fold symmetry of its structure. The finding of a second natural quasicrystal informs the longstanding debate about the stability and robustness of quasicrystals among condensed matter physicists and demonstrates that mineralogy can continue to surprise us and have a strong impact on other disciplines. “