3 Things I Learned about Crystals

As I am cruising through the inter-webs looking for info on crystals and how they work I came across three things that I find very interesting. Now this is science and not any of the woo-woo that cause some to roll their eyes when you mention crystals.

First thing i learned today was about piezoelectricity…..what!?! Piezoelecrtricity, this is when you apply pressure to certain crystals (quartz and tourmaline) and it causes the polarization of it’s electrons. who cares, right? not right. this means that a current (electrical) can now run through the crystal, place them face to face and current will flow!

This was discovered in 1880 by Pierre and Paul-Jacques Curie. But why and how is this useful? Well, we find this in action in watches, in how ultrasounds work, and in microphones to name a very few.

Quartz Crystal

So as you can see I am looking into the science of crystals and their amazing capabilities. Another thing I came across was pyroelectricity…..heat polarizing crystals, basically you apply heat or cold (energy) to crystals (amber, quartz) and it will polarize (negative charge on one end, postitive on the other. This will give the crystal a static electric charge which can pull things toward it, like straw or ashes….non magnetic things. The static electric charge pulls them toward the crystal, these can also run in a circuit.

Triboluminescene also known as fractoluminescence and mechanoluminescence. It is a flash of light produced when a material is subjected to friction, impact or breakage.  Up to 50% of all crystals will do it to some extent, but here are some that will give you nice results quartz, sphalerite, fluorite, calcite, muscovite, and many feldspar. So if you have a couple of quartz crystals (not your very fave ones, there could be some damage and wear eye protection!) knock them together in a dark room! BAM! A flash of light! although why this happens is not completely understood there are a couple of ideas. One is the extra energy inputted by the strike causes electrons to get excited and as they come down from the excitement there is a flash of light. It could also be like lightening, where electrical current is created by force then moves through the crystal causing trap gas molecules in the crystal to glow.
Did you know that wint-o-green life savers will flash with blue light with the right force? Me neither, until now. I will be trying this out later, to show the fellas. very cool!

So these three concepts are new to me and I am excited to try out some experiments. If you have more information or I have the basic concepts wrong, please let me know. I am just learning this.

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