The 2011 Nobel Prize for Chemistry has been awarded to Daniel Shechtman “for the discovery of quasicrystals”.
Quasicrystals are crystal structures that follow a set pattern but do not repeat themselves*.
“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,” says the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in a press release. “His [Shechtman’s] 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.”
Shechtman works at Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.
- Technically, as Ted Janssen wrote in Nature Materials in 2007, “Quasicrystals are perfectly ordered materials, but unlike conventional crystals they do not show lattice periodicity; that is, the atomic structure is not periodic in the three spatial directions.”
Read Nature’s full coverage of the chemistry prize here.
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