Jerusalem, Oct. 5 - Israeli chemist Dan Shechtman was awarded the Nobel Prize on Wednesday for his discovery of quasicrystals, a mosaic-like chemical structure that was previously deemed impossible. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said Dr. Shechtman’s discovery in 1982 “fundamentally changed the way chemists look at solid matter,” Al Jazeera TV reported.
Shecthman, born in Tel Aviv, is a professor at Haifa’s Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and an Associate of the United States Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory. He has won numerous awards for his outstanding contributions to science and his excellence in teaching.
He is Israel’s tenth Nobel Prize recipient. Shechtman’s discovery opened the door for experiments in the use of the quasicrystals, a hard-like substance, in everything from diesel engines to frying pans. Israel has one of the highest rates of hi-tech start-ups per capita and is considered a world leader in technical innovation.
Reports paint a picture of a brave Schechtman who faced strong objections from the scientific community and was forced to leave his research group because of his revolutionary ideas. Contrary to the previous belief that atoms were packed inside crystals in symmetrical patterns, Shechtman discovered that quasicrystals were like “fascinating mosaics of the Arabic world” reproduced at the level of atoms which never repeat themselves, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.
He thereby disproved the theory that atom patterns inside crystals repeated themselves.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Shechtman on behalf of the citizens of Israel.