- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Excerpts from the citation awarding the 2011 Nobel Prize in chemistry to Israeli scientist Daniel Shechtman for “for the discovery of quasicrystals.”

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“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.”

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“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.”

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“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. A Swedish company has also found quasicrystals in a certain form of steel, where the crystals reinforce the material like armor. Scientists are currently experimenting with using quasicrystals in different products such as frying pans and diesel engines.”

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