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ISRAEL: Daniel Shechtman winner of Nobel Prize in chemistry

October 5, 2011 |  4:56 am


This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

REPORTING FROM JERUSALEM -- Israeli scientist Daniel Shechtman was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in
chemistry for his discovery of a new form of crystals whose patterns and configuration defied previously held laws of nature and altered common understandings of solid matter.

The Tel Aviv-born professor is Israel's 10th Nobel laureate and the fourth to win for chemistry. Three former Israeli prime ministers have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work in trying to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Shechtman’s 1982 discovery of what would become known as quasicrystals provoked controversy in his field, demonstrating that atoms in some crystals were packed in patterns that could not be repeated, which was previously thought impossible.

“His discovery was extremely controversial,’’ the Nobel Committee for Chemistry at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences noted in announcing the award. “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 studied and teaches at Haifa’s Technion–Israel Institute of Technology. He also has worked at Iowa State University and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory.

“This is a happy day -- good news that stands out in all the bad news,’’ Avraham Hershko, another Israeli scientist who won the 2004 Nobel for chemistry, told Israel Radio.

The prize includes an award of $1.45 million.

[For the Record, 5:58 a.m. Oct. 5: An earlier version of this post misspelled quasicrystals as quaiscrystals.]


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-- Edmund Sanders

Photo: Israeli scientist Daniel Shechtman at Haifa’s Technion–Israel Institute of Technology on Wednesday. Credit: Associated Press