The laws of symmetry are unforgiving, but a team of researchers from the US have come up with a pattern-producing technique that seems to cheat them. The new technique is called moiré nanolithography and the researchers hope that it will find useful applications in the production of solar panels and many other optical devices.
In 1982 Dan Shechtman discovered a crystal that would revolutionise chemistry. He has just been awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery — but has the Nobel committee missed out a chance to honour a mathematician for his role in this revolution as well?
This pattern with kite-shaped tiles can be extended to cover any area, but however big we make it, the pattern never repeats itself. Alison Boyle investigates aperiodic tilings, which have had unexpected applications in describing new crystal structures.