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Israeli Scientist Wins 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Professor Daniel Shechtman named for discovery of quasicrystals
By: Leonard Carl
Published: October 5th, 2011 in News » Israel
Daniel Shechtman

After enduring years of ridicule, Israeli scientist Daniel Shechtman finally had the last laugh when, on Wednesday, October 5th, the 70-year-old was awarded with the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Shechtman, a professor at Haifa’s Technion – was named the winner of illustrious award for his discovery of quasicrystals, atoms that create regular patterns, but never repeat themselves.

Born in Tel Aviv, the professor’s initial interest in “all things science” was apparently ignited when he read The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne.

Shechtman, who is also an associate of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory, is the 10th Israeli to win a Nobel Prize and the fourth to win for chemistry.

His research, which at one time was seen as "extremely controversial," was judged to have "fundamentally altered how chemists conceive of solid matter," the jury said.

"I would like to congratulate you, on behalf of the citizens of Israel, for your award, which expresses the intellect of our people. Every Israeli is happy today and every Jew in the world is proud," said Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu during a phone call with Shechtman.

"This is really a great day for me personally, and truly a great day for science," Professor Shechtman said at a press conference shortly after the announcement was made. “There are currently thousands of scientists who are researching the topic I opened, and I'm sure that everyone sees in the prize their achievement as well, and they deserve to, because if it weren't for these thousands of scientists, this science would not be where it is today."

Shechtman's discovery dates all the way back to 1982 when, on sabbatical at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, he detected an unusual quality in a aluminum and manganese crystal he had created. As Shechtman studies his creation through his microscope, he noticed that it had a pentagonal symmetry — which until that point, was thought to be impossible among crystallographers.



Related articles: Technion University Professor, Nobel Prize, quasicrystals, Daniel Shechtman
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