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Quest for perfect crystal goes celestial

University of Freiburg researchers commission astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) to grow crystals

Freiburg, Nov 23, 2017

Solar cells, LEDs, and microchips are just a few modern technologies that require high-quality crystals. They are composed of a crystalline molten mass that can be made by melting silicon and germanium, for example. But the process is anything but simple. Gravity affects the molten mass, resulting in a loss in crystal quality. In an effort to grow the perfect crystal, Dr. Tina Sorgenfrei and her team have been using parabolic flights to simulate weightlessness. Soon, the astronauts aboard the ISS will also begin to carry out experiments in space that have been commissioned by the Freiburg researcher. The special oven is due to be delivered to the orbiting space station this year.