| The Mysterious Force That Makes Crystals Align Measured by Scientists for the First Time
Crystals are among the most fascinating structures in the natural world - not only do they have a unique, highly ordered, and repeating lattice structure, they also have all kinds of inherent, interesting properties, including the ability to self-assemble. When placed next to each other, tiny crystals will twist, snap into alignment, and slam into each other to form larger crystals, and for the first time, scientists have visualised and measured the force that makes this possible. By using a new visualisation technique, the team showed that the force that governs crystals is a type of van der Waals force, a quantum attraction that's not reliant on any chemical bonds (such as the covalent bonds that hold molecules together). It's the same type of force that allows geckos' feet to stick to walls and ceilings - and now scientists have shown that it also works to twist and fuse crystals together, allowing them to get larger and larger. Although many crystal structures are shaped like cubes