The Crystal with a Wiggle!

We learned in basic chemistry that when matter is heated, the molecules vibrate faster and that the volume of the mass increases as these atoms take up more space. Chemists experimenting with scandium fluoride found the opposite effect. When a crystal was heated, it actually shrunk! To find out why, they shot the crystal with neutrons to locate the specific atoms in the matrix. They found that although most the atoms stayed in place, the fluorine atoms wobbled causing the crystal to buckle. This finding may help design new chemical structures that will super conduct electron flow.


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