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Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Daniel Shechtman - A remarkable mosaic of atoms

Wednesday, 05 October 2011
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2011 was awarded to Daniel Shechtman "for the discovery of quasicrystals". Shechtman is an Israeli citizen, born 1941, and worked at the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.

“His discovery led to a paradigm shift in chemistry,” said Lars Thelander, chairman of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry, at the press conference at the Royal Academy of Sciences at Frescati in Stockholm.

In a jsutication of the prize, the committee chairman,  Thelander, said that the results were initially criticized and looked controversial. The discovery of quasicrystals has led chemists to fundamentally change their view of solid materials.

“On the morning of 8 April 1982, an image counter to the laws of nature appeared in Daniel Shechtman's electron microscope. In all solid matter, atoms were believed to be packed inside crystals in symmetrical patterns that were repeated periodically over and over again. For scientists, this repetition was required in order to obtain a crystal.”

“Shechtman's image, however, showed that the atoms in his crystal were packed in a pattern that could not be repeated. Such a pattern was considered just as impossible as creating a football using only six-cornered polygons, when a sphere needs both five- and six-cornered polygons. His discovery was extremely controversial. In the course of defending his findings, he was asked to leave his research group. However, his battle eventually forced scientists to reconsider their conception of the very nature of matter,” said the Academy of Sciences in its justification for the choice of laureates.

“Unique materials have unique properties. The important thing about the discovery of quasicrystals  is the importance of basic research,” says Sven Lidin, a member of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry at the press conference.
“We find it also in different materials, for example, to enhance high quality steel.”

The results have led the researchers are now experimenting with using quasicrystals in everything from frying pans to diesel engines.
The prize money is Skr10 million, which Shechtman would not need to share with anyone.
By Scancomark.se/
Source: Swedish Academy of Science

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