Curved Crystals Heal Defects
Very often people want to work with ideal materials that are free of defects, but sadly this is not always possible. Defects can be caused by many things and there is not always something you can do about it. Researchers at the University of Chicago though have discovered that curved crystals will actually remove defects on their own.
Years ago it was predicted that a spherical crystal with a regular hexagonal pattern to it would always have 12 scars, because hexagons cannot make a perfect sphere. The new research investigates what happens when an additional defect is added between the scars, and the results are not what the researchers expected. For a flat crystal, the defect would just remain where it was and affect the properties of the crystal, but the curved shape caused the defect to actually break apart and travel to the scars. Once at the scars, the defect was removed from the crystal, though the mass of the added particle that created the defect would have remained where it was placed.
This healing property could be very useful for many systems including two forms of carbon; Buckyballs and graphene. Buckyballs already have a spherical shape while graphene is a two dimensional material. By bending the graphene though, it may be possible to remove imperfections and improve its conductivity for use in consumer electronics.