An international team of scientists have created a new type of crystal utilising light that is ten billion times brighter than the sun.
Associate Professor Brian Abbey at La Trobe led the discovery in collaboration with Associate Professor Harry Quiney at the University of Melbourne, overturning over 100 years of conventional knowledge on crystallography.
“We were stunned, this is the first time in the world that X-ray light has effectively created a new type of crystal phase” said Associate Professor Quiney
A sample of Buckminsterfullerene (or Buckyballs) were exposed to intense light from the world’s first hard free electron laser (XFEL). The light emitted was around one billion times brighter from any other X-ray equipment.
The soccer-shaped molecules of the Buckyballs were transformed into the shape of a rugby ball.
“It was like smashing a walnut with a sledgehammer and instead of destroying it and shattering it into a million pieces, we instead created a different shape – an almond!” Assoc. Prof. Abbey said.
Assoc. Prof. Abbey further noted that the studies could potentially open up new avenues for drug development.
The study was published in the journal Science Advances.