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Low Temperature and Condensed Matter Physics
    PAST: CHEX CVX LPE ZENO
    PRESENT: Ongoing Research
    FUTURE: BEST DYNAMX EXACT KISHT MISTE SUE SHE

Launch Date: Proposed Mission
Mission Duration: 4 months
Principle Investigator: Prof. Charles Elbaum, Brown University

 

KISHT image

By observing crystals that grow out of liquid helium, a great deal can be learned about the basic behavior of a range of materials with selected properties. Using a super-cold system with precision pressure controls, the KISHT experiment will be conducted in orbit to operate in a low-gravity environment.

Helium is an ideal material to use for this test, because it transports heat away very quickly, making it easier to observe crystal formulation than is possible with other materials. While similar tests of crystal growth have been conducted on Earth, it is entirely different observing them in the absence of gravity. Similarly, room temperature crystallization tests have been taken into space before, proving that growing crystals in a micro-gravity environment will create larger and more uniform crystals.

The most important characteristic of the experiment is to observe the formation of crystals that are free from the force of gravity, to see if their structure develops differently. Novel shapes may grow when gravity forces do not influence the liquid helium and crystals can be grown without the influence of the container walls. Other factors that come into play when experimenting with crystal growth include, determining how many neighbor atoms the helium atoms have, under different temperatures and pressures.

The KISHT experiment is housed in a baseball-size container with a transparent window that allows the crystals to be videotaped with a high-speed system.

By knowing how to grow better crystals, techniques might be developed that can lead to improved manufacturing methods or other commercial applications of the knowledge.


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