Crystalline construction

Published: Thursday 31 August 1995

Researchers at the University of Leiden, the Netherlands, have photographed images of the growth of Helium-3 crystals. The crystals, grown at a temperature of 0.001' Kelvin - close to the lowest temperature obtainable theoretically, which is 0* Kelvin - were shot by a charge-coupled device camera (Science, Vol 268, No 5216).

Because the camera only operates above 60' Kelvin, it was shield- ed inside a copper box and placed inside the cryostat, the setup which produces the low temperature. Light pulses from a light-emitting diode were directed towards the crystal with the help of a minute glass fibre. The video images, apart from being a technological wonder, will provide researchers valuable insights into the properties of crystals.

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