(Reuters) - The 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Israeli Dan Shechtman, 70, for discovering quasicrystals, patterns in atoms which were thought impossible, the prize committee said on Wednesday.
Here are some details:
-- In quasicrystals, there are mosaics such as those of the Arabic world reproduced at the level of atoms: regular patterns that never repeat themselves.
-- In April 1982, Shechtman said to himself. "There can be no such creature." The material he was studying, a mix of aluminum and manganese, was strange-looking, and he had turned to the electron microscope in order to observe it at the atomic level.
-- His discovery was extremely controversial and flew in the face of the accepted view that patterns had to be repetitious. However, his battle eventually forced scientists to reconsider their conception of the very nature of matter, the prize committee said.
-- Following Shechtman's discovery, scientists have produced other kinds of quasicrystals in the lab and discovered naturally occurring quasicrystals in mineral samples from a Russian river.
-- Scientists are currently experimenting with using quasicrystals in different products such as frying pans and diesel engines.
* LIFE DETAILS:
-- Born in January 1941, Shechtman gained a BSc in 1966 at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in the northern Israeli city of Haifa - in mechanical engineering. He qualified with an MSc in 1968 in materials engineering and four years later with a Ph.D also in materials engineering also at Thechnion.
-- Shechtman was a fellow at the aerospace Research Laboratories at Wright Patterson, Ohio, where he studied for three years the microstructure and physical metallurgy of titanium aluminides.
-- In 1981-l983 he was on sabbatical at the Johns Hopkins University, where he studied rapidly solidified aluminum transition metal alloys.
-- Three years later he became Professor in the Department of Materials Engineering at Technion and has since become a distinguished professor there.
-- He won the European Materials Research Society (E-MRS) 25th Anniversary Award in 2008 and ten years earlier the Israel prize in Physics.
(Reporting by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit)
(The Nobel Committee at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences corrects laureate's first name to Dan from Daniel)