• Question: Could you use crystals to create mass amounts of energy for cities or would that be impossible? How big can you make a crystal before its unstable? What form are the crystals in when you create them? are they like your rock crystal appearance or are they a completely different form of matter?

    Asked by MKiselova04 to Chris, Kathryn, Sarah on 16 Nov 2017.
    • Photo: Chris Werner

      Chris Werner answered on 16 Nov 2017:


      Great questions in questions there! Crystals form as a result of nucleation, they keep growing until all the elements and conditions which allow them to grow are exhausted! You can use quartz (SiO2) to store electricity, and are currently used in radios, computers, televisions and watches because of its conductive properties. So it is done in practice, but wouldn’t be done for storing masses of energy like you said, if there was they’d be pursuing that rather than wind and solar energy sources!

      There haven’t been attempts that I know of that makes giant crystals but the biggest ones found which are naturally forming are in the aptly named ‘Cave of the Crystals’ or ‘Giant Crystal Cave’ in Mexico, about 300 metres down, in a scorching 58 celsius and 99% humidity, whoa! They are gypsum crystals, the largest of which is 12 metres long.

      Regarding how they appear, most rocks have crystals in them, depends on their cooling rate.

    • Photo: Sarah Guerin

      Sarah Guerin answered on 16 Nov 2017:


      Ok lets break this down- the crystals I use couldn’t be used for big cities because you need to apply a force to get the electricity out, and you couldn’t do that on that kind of scale, so it couldn’t replace fossil fuels for that kind of application.

      My crystals are better for consumer electronics applications- you can charge your phone using the movement of your leg while you walk/run, you can use them for lighters, weighing scales, phone sensors, car sensors, virtual reality video gaming, things like that.

      In terms of size- the bigger the crystal the more stable it is. The biggest crystals I have made are about the size of a ping pong ball, but there are naturally occurring crystals like calcite with could be the size of a coffee cup. I grow lots of crystals that you can only see under a microscope- and they are the most unstable.

      The crystals do look like tiny diamonds mostly, the coolest ones you can see at the bottom of my profile 🙂

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