Daniel Shechtman, an Israeli scientist, won the 2011 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his work in the discovery of quasicrystals.
Shechtman, 70, a researcher at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, was awarded the prize for his work in 1982 in the discovery of the icosahedral phase, which opened up work into the field of quasiperiodic crystals.
His research has fundamentally altered how chemists conceive of solid matter, said the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, when it announced the award Wednesday.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences granted him the 10 million kronor ($1.4 million) award.
Quasicrystals are structural forms that are ordered but not periodic. They form patterns that fill all the space though they lack translational symmetry. The first officially reported case of what came to be known as quasicrystals was made by Shechtman and his team. Since the original discovery, hundreds of quasicrystals have been reported and confirmed.
People just laughed at me, Shechtman recalled in an interview this year with Israeli newspaper Haaretz, noting how Linus Pauling, a colossus of science and double Nobel laureate, mounted a frightening crusade against him, saying: There is no such thing as quasicrystals, only quasi-scientists, Reuters reported.
“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,” the committee said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hosted Shechtman at his office on Thursday, and received a chemistry lesson from him. Using a blackboard, Shechtman drew a diagram of his discovery, quasicrystals, a chemical structure that researchers previously thought was impossible, Haaretz.com reported.