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Nobel Prize

Quasicrystals discovery wins Nobel Prize for chemistry

Watch Israeli scientist Daniel Shechtman talk about the 1982 discovery he fought to have recognised and for which he has won a Nobel Prize.

THE 2011 NOBEL Prize for chemistry has been awarded to Israeli scientist Daniel Shechtman for his 1982 discovery of ‘quasicrystals’.

The discovery was considered controversial and led to Shechtman’s expulsion from his research group, but it has since changed the way chemists look at solid matter.

Shechtman’s discovery challenged the earlier belief that atoms were packed inside crystals in symmetrical patterns and showed that the atoms could actually be arranged in unique patterns that could not be repeated. He was studying a then-new material comprised of aluminium and manganese when he discovered a patten he likens to Islamic mosaics.

Most scientists had said that the ten-point crystals Shechtman discovered in 1982 were impossible and it took years for his discovery to be accepted. In 1987, scientists in France and Japan grew crystals large enough for x-rays to verify what he had found in 1982.

Quasicrystals were discovered in nature for the first time in 2009.

Speaking today, Shechtman said it was “wonderful” to win the award.

“I told everyone who was ready to listen that I had material with pentagonal symmetry. People just laughed at me,” he said.

Watch Shechtman discuss his work and his discovery:

- Additional reporting by the AP

Read: Nobel Prize for physics awarded for focus on universe expansion >

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