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The Perovskite Project: A unique way to learn about mineral physics

Jessica Irving's contributions together with a sample of a perovskite crystal (CaTiO3) from the geoscience department's mineral collection.
Jessica Irving's contributions together with a sample of a perovskite crystal (CaTiO3) from the geoscience department's mineral collection. This crystal originally comes from the Achmatovsk Mine in Russia. Photograph by Debbie Fahey.

Silicate perovskite is speculated to make up more than two thirds of the deep Earth's lower mantle, classifying it to be one of the most important minerals on Earth.  This summer, faculty member Jessica Irving is participating in an international project to create a large model of the perovskite structure.  The group will not be making the model with the normal scientific materials, but with yarn!  

The Perovskite Project is gathering contributions from crafters and scientists to make a 3D representation of the crystalline structure. Irving has undertaken the task of making a series of yellow, crochet spheres representing the "central atom," which is normally magnesium in the lower mantle. Blue knitted octahedra represent the silicon and oxygen atoms together. The final structure will be built at the end of the summer.

The project has its own website hosted by the chemistry department at University of Surrey.  The site offers the possibility to get involve, ask questions, or a place to keep track of the progress of the knitters. 

Visit their Facebook site:

https://www.facebook.com/ThePerovskiteProject