For the first time ever, hexagonal salt has been created by scientists. It might not be used in the kitchen yet, a novel scientific feat might be able to help in everything.
The chemical salt is sodium chloride – NaCl and is not for dining purposes but for radar equipment and electric cars. Researchers have formed this by getting a thin film layer of hexagonal salt over a layer of diamond q. They have been successful in synthesising 2D materials with rare crystal structures. This self-imposed limit to two dimensions has allowed new and striking structures to be created.
Kseniya Tikhomirova, material scientist from the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology in Russia stipulates that “Initially we decided to perform only a computational study of the formation of new 2D structures on different substrates, driven by the hypothesis that if a substrate interacts strongly with the NaCl thin film, one can expect major changes in the structure of the thin film.”
To start with, Tikhomirova and her colleagues made use of a custom algorithm labeled as USPEX to expect low-energy structures based on the chemical elements utilized to create them. That consecutively led to a hypothesis about the creation of NaCl structures on top of the diamond layer.
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In order to prove this concept correct, a series of high-pressure experiments were done to form a layer of hexagonal NaCl ranging just six nanometres thick – a layer that was already checked with X-ray and electron diffraction measurements. As the film became thicker, it then turned to the standard cubic structure of the salt. Here we are talking about the salt that you would add to your salad.
Alexander Kvashnin, another material scientist, moreover adds that “This shows that this simple and common compound, seemingly well-studied, hides many interesting phenomena, especially in nanoscale”.