Boffins probe crystal mystery

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SHEFFIELD University scientists have analysed the microscopic structure of crystal materials for the first time to reveal their detailed atomic properties.

Experts have been able to shed new light on semiconductor crystals using optical microscopy.

Their work could lead to an explanation as to why the exact same carbon atoms can be a pencil lead or diamonds depending on their atomic structure.

Creating a technique similar to an MRI scanner, the team analysed the samples of several types of semiconductor to show that the nature of the microscopic structure can be extracted by simply looking at the properties of the light emitted by the crystal.

Dr Evgeny Chekhovich said: “Crystalline materials have myriad applications in modern technology, including a broad class of materials used as light emitters and detectors, computer chips, microwave sources and much more.”