Until Daniel Shechtman came along, chemists defined crystals as materials in which atoms are arranged in a regular pattern that repeats itself. But in 1982, Shechtman, a materials scientist at the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, found that an alloy of aluminum and manganese had a regular order of its atoms but in a pattern that did not repeat. Such “quasicrystals” forced chemists to rewrite their textbooks, and ultimately won Shechtman a Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2011. Since that early discovery, quasicrystals have been found in nature, and engineers made numerous varieties of their own and use them in everything from razor blades to nonstick coatings in cookware. Now, researchers in Germany have come up with a new way to grow ultrathin quasicrystalline films. As they report online today in Nature, they deposited a thin layer of barium titanate (BaTiO3) atop a surface of platinum atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice. Barium titanate’s atoms are normally arrayed in a cubic pattern. But the mismatch in atomic arrangement between the two layers forces the BiTiO3 to arrange its atoms into 12-sided dodecahedrons. The outer ring of the dodecahedrons can be seen in yellow (images left and right). Inside, the atoms arrange themselves in a series of triangles, squares, and rhombi (right). The authors suggest that the new way of growing quasicrystals  may lead to many more varieties with as yet untold uses.