TOHOKU, Japan, Aug. 3 (UPI) -- Japanese researchers say they found opal-like crystals in a meteor that fell in Canada in 2000, the first extraterrestrial discovery of such unusual crystals.
Reporting the find in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, scientists from Tohoku University said the crystals may have formed in the primordial cloud of dust that produced the sun and planets of our solar system 4.6 billion years ago, an ACS release said Wednesday.
Colloidal crystals such as opals, which form as an orderly array of particles, are of great interest for their potential use in new electronics and optical devices, researcher Katsuo Tsukamoto said.
The formation of colloidal crystals in the so-called Tagish Lake meteorite implies that several significant conditions must have existed when they formed, the researchers said.
"First, a certain amount of solution water must have been present in the meteorite to disperse the colloidal particles," the journal report said. "The solution water must have been confined in small voids, in which colloidal crystallization takes place.
"These conditions, along with evidence from similar meteorites, suggest that the crystals may have formed 4.6 billion years ago."