Chelyabinsk meteor to help develop nanotechnology

The Chelyabinsk meteor is full of mysteries. Scientists from Nizhny Novgorod have found natural magnesium-iron nanocrystals while studying the fragments of the meteor. This can give new information about the nature of nanomaterials and the conditions of their natural formation. Dmitry Pavlov, one of the scientists and the authors of the research, gave an interview to "The Voice of Russia".

Chelyabinsk meteor has become the first celestial body that has natural nanocrystals. This is quite an interesting phenomenon, Dmitry Pavlov, Doctor of physics and mathematics sciences, and head of physics of semiconductors and optoelectronics chair at Lobachevsky State University of Nizhni Novgorod, said.

We've found that the meteor forms thick layers of nanocrystals in it. We've never found anything like this in meteors before. The nanotechnology branch is trying to create something like this artificially. However, the reasons of nanocrystals' formation are still undecided.

The meteor's nanocrystals consist of ferropericlase. This material can be found in magnesium, iron and oxygen. It's formed only in the upper layers of mantle under extremely high pressure and temperature. Moreover, the nanocrystals found in the meteor, have an ideal spherical form. This means that the meteor underwent high temperatures and immense pressure. So, it might be that the crystals appeared in the meteor, when the latter was falling at a high speed from space, Dmitry Pavlov said.

When the celestial body was falling to the Earth, it heated up greatly. The temperature could have reached thousands degrees. Moreover, it exploded at a height of 15 kilometers. So its fragments fell to the Earth, some of them in Lake Chebarkul, some of them in the snow near the lake. One of these fragments was taken to Chelyabinsk. Objects with nanocrystals are extremely interesting in terms of their physical qualities.

It was found out that meteorite nanocrystals can to be luminescent. They emit visible and infrared radiation in the wavelength range from 675 to 800 nanometers. This data may help to develop a system with optically active spheres. For the first time, the optical activity of substances was discovered in quartz in 1811 by French scientist Dominique François. Five years later another French scientist Jean-Baptiste Bio, found this activity in pure liquids and fumes of many organic substances, Dmitry Pavlov says.

Systems with optically active spheres were elaborated long ago in optoelectronics. However, the technologies of their development are being improved and new methods of their creation are being searched for. In this case, nature has shown us a new way of creating such complex technologies.

Today scientists all around the world are unsuccessfully trying to artificially create nanocrystals with quantum-sized effects and no thermal luminescence. Different physics laboratories are creating the most extreme conditions for this, but they have achieved nothing. The Chelyabinsk meteor may be the decision of the issue, Dmitry Pavlov says.

The Chelyabinsk meteor felt to the Earth on February 15, 2013, exploding above Chelyabinsk, the capital of the South Urals. One of the largest fragments of the meteor fell in the waters of Lake Chebarkul. Divers managed to get the fragment from the bottom of the lake on October 16, 2013. The fragment weighs more than 650 kilograms.