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Trace Element Conundrum of Natural Quasicrystals

Tommasini, Simone and Bindi, Luca and Petrelli, Maurizio and Asimow, Paul D. and Steinhardt, Paul J. (2021) Trace Element Conundrum of Natural Quasicrystals. ACS Earth and Space Chemistry, 5 (3). pp. 676-689. ISSN 2472-3452. doi:10.1021/acsearthspacechem.1c00004.

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We report laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry measurements of the trace element contents of the two naturally occurring quasicrystalline minerals, Al₆₃Cu₂₄Fe₁₃ icosahedrite and Al₇₁Ni₂₄Fe₅ decagonite, from their type locality in the Khatyrka meteorite. The isolated quasicrystal fragments were mounted separately from any matrix and are larger than the laser beam diameter. When the elements are sorted in order of volatility, a systematic and unique pattern emerges in both bulk natural quasicrystal specimens. They are highly depleted compared to primitive solar system materials (chondritic meteorites) in moderately refractory elements (those with 50% condensation temperatures near 1350–1300 K; V, Co, Mg, Cr) and significantly enriched in moderately volatile elements (those with 50% condensation temperatures between 1250 and 500 K; Sb, B, Ag, Sn, Bi). We compare the chondrite-normalized trace element patterns and ratios of the quasicrystals to those of scoriaceous cosmic spherules and other meteoritic components. The nonmonotonic shapes of the chondrite-normalized trace element patterns in both icosahedrite and decagonite are incompatible with a single condensation process from the gas of the solar nebula. Previous transmission electron microscopy studies show that the natural quasicrystals contain 3–5 vol % of silicate and oxide nanoparticle inclusions, which we consider to be the main host of the measured trace elements. On this basis, we construct a three-stage model for the formation of the quasicrystals and their inclusions: a high-temperature condensation stage and a low-temperature vapor-fractionation stage to make nanoparticles, followed by a third stage that leads to the formation of quasicrystals incorporating the two different types of nanoparticles and their incorporation into the CV chondrite parent body of the Khatyrka meteorite.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription
Bindi, Luca0000-0003-1168-7306
Petrelli, Maurizio0000-0001-6956-4742
Asimow, Paul D.0000-0001-6025-8925
Additional Information:© 2021 The Authors. Published by American Chemical Society. ACS AuthorChoice -- CC-BY. Received: January 6, 2021; Accepted: February 15, 2021; Published: February 25, 2021. We thank Timothy Eisele (Michigan Tech) and Paul Huysmans (Quality Manager at the KBM Affilips B.V. alloy corporation) for expert advice on the use of Al Cu alloys in industrial applications and Tom Tyner, lead chemistry advisor on Reagents for the American Chemical Society, and John Elfers, Thermo Fisher Scientific, for sharing their expertise on the Devarda Alloy. We also thank M. Humayun, C. Lin, and G.J. MacPherson for their unpublished results from an earlier trace element analysis at a lower resolution, which placed useful upper bounds and motivated the improved analysis presented in this paper. We thank four anonymous reviewers for their comments and constructive criticism, which led to a substantially improved paper. The editorial handling of Eric Herbst was greatly appreciated. The research was funded by MIUR-PRIN2017, project “TEOREM deciphering geological processes using Terrestrial and Extraterrestrial ORE Minerals”, prot. 2017AK8C32 (PI: Luca Bindi). Author Contributions: L.B. designed the research and led the scientific team; M.P. obtained the trace element data; S.T., L.B., P.D.A, and P.J.S. wrote the paper; all authors discussed and commented on the results and gave approval to the final version of the manuscript. The authors declare no competing financial interest.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Ministero dell’Istruzione, dell’Università e della Ricerca (MIUR)2017AK8C32
Subject Keywords:quasicrystal, icosahedrite, decagonite, alloys, trace elements, meteorite, solar system
Issue or Number:3
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210225-145616935
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Official Citation:Trace Element Conundrum of Natural Quasicrystals. Simone Tommasini, Luca Bindi, Maurizio Petrelli, Paul D. Asimow, and Paul J. Steinhardt. ACS Earth and Space Chemistry 2021 5 (3), 676-689; DOI: 10.1021/acsearthspacechem.1c00004
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:108219
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:26 Feb 2021 00:20
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 19:10

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