January 1, 2009 Issue

Physics To Go 64 - Crystals

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Physics in Your World

Smithsonian Education - Minerals, Crystals, and Gems image
image credit: Creative Commons; image source; larger image

Smithsonian Education - Minerals, Crystals, and Gems

-- This is a crystal of fluorite (calcium fluoride), the official state mineral of Illinois. To find out more about it, visit its Wikipedia entry.
-- For more on crystals, how they form, and how they are cut into gems, visit the Smithsonian's Minerals, Crystals, and Gems. While you're there, you can learn about the Hope Diamond.

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Physics at Home

Science of Cooking: Rock Candy

Check out this activity from the Exploratorium to find out how to make sugar crystals in your kitchen.


From Physics Research

STM at Sljus image
image credit: Brian Swartzentruber, Sandia National Laboratories; (image not available on web); larger image

STM at Sljus

The bright spots in this scanning tunneling microscope (STM) image are silicon atoms. They are sitting on top of a silicon crystal, which includes some gold atoms that have displaced silicon atoms.
-- Silicon atoms have formed a thin layer at the upper right, and have assumed the structure of the underlying crystal (note the ordered arrangement). Also, excess silicon atoms have accumulated at the steps of the crystal.
--To see a different STM image of the steps in a silicon crystal, and for more on the STM itself, visit STM at Sljus.

This feature was updated on 3/17/09.

Worth a Look

Physics in Action: Seeing Atoms

Visit Physics in Action: Seeing Atoms to find out why we can't see atoms with light, and how the scanning tunneling microscope works. Also, don't miss the images in IBM's STM Gallery (be sure to click on each link).

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