Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry: 'Quasicrystals' once thought impossible have changed understanding of solid matter

Date:
October 5, 2011
Source:
Nobel Foundation
Summary:
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences is awarding the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2011 to Daniel Shechtman for the discovery of quasicrystals: non-repeating regular patterns of atoms that were once thought to be impossible. The breakthrough has fundamentally altered how chemists conceive of solid matter.

Aperiodic mosaics, such as those found in the medieval Islamic mosaics of the Alhambra Palace in Spain (shown above), have helped scientists understand what quasicrystals look like at the atomic level. In those mosaics, as in quasicrystals, the patterns are regular -- they follow mathematical rules -- but they never repeat themselves.
Credit: cbomers / Fotolia

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2011 to Daniel Shechtman of the Technion -- Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel, for the discovery of quasicrystals: non-repeating regular patterns of atoms that were once thought to be impossible.

A remarkable mosaic of atoms

In quasicrystals, we find the fascinating mosaics of the Arabic world reproduced at the level of atoms: regular patterns that never repeat themselves. However, the configuration found in quasicrystals was considered impossible, and Daniel Shechtman had to fight a fierce battle against established science. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2011 recognizes a breakthrough that has fundamentally altered how chemists conceive of solid matter.

On the morning of April 8, 1982, an image counter to the laws of nature appeared in Daniel Shechtman's electron microscope. 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. Such a pattern was considered just as impossible as creating a football using only six-cornered polygons, when a sphere needs both five- and six-cornered polygons. 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.

Aperiodic mosaics, such as those found in the medieval Islamic mosaics of the Alhambra Palace in Spain and the Darb-i Imam Shrine in Iran, have helped scientists understand what quasicrystals look like at the atomic level. In those mosaics, as in quasicrystals, the patterns are regular -- they follow mathematical rules -- but they never repeat themselves.

When scientists describe Shechtman's quasicrystals, they use a concept that comes from mathematics and art: the golden ratio. This number had already caught the interest of mathematicians in Ancient Greece, as it often appeared in geometry. In quasicrystals, for instance, the ratio of various distances between atoms is related to the golden mean.

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.

Daniel Shechtman, Israeli citizen. Born 1941 in Tel Aviv, Israel. Ph.D. 1972 from Technion -- Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel. Distinguished Professor, The Philip Tobias Chair, Technion -- Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel.

The Prize amount: SEK 10 million.

For further information, including backgrounders for the public and scientists and links for further reading, see: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/chemistry/laureates/2011/press.html


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Nobel Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Nobel Foundation. "2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry: 'Quasicrystals' once thought impossible have changed understanding of solid matter." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111005080232.htm>.
Nobel Foundation. (2011, October 5). 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry: 'Quasicrystals' once thought impossible have changed understanding of solid matter. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111005080232.htm
Nobel Foundation. "2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry: 'Quasicrystals' once thought impossible have changed understanding of solid matter." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111005080232.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

AP (July 18, 2014) The Obama administration approved the use of sonic cannons to discover deposits under the ocean floor by shooting sound waves 100 times louder than a jet engine through waters shared by endangered whales and turtles. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Newsy (July 18, 2014) The wreckage of the German submarine U-166 has become clearly visible for the first time since it was discovered in 2001. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Reuters - US Online Video (July 17, 2014) President Barak Obama stopped by at a lunch counter in Delaware before making remarks about boosting the nation's infrastructure. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

TheStreet (July 16, 2014) Oil Futures are bouncing back after tumbling below $100 a barrel for the first time since May yesterday. Jeff Grossman is the president of BRG Brokerage and trades at the NYMEX. Grossman tells TheStreet the Middle East is always a concern for oil traders. Oil prices were pushed down in recent weeks on Libya increasing its production. Supply disruptions in Iraq fading also contributed to prices falling. News from China's economic front showing a growth for the second quarter also calmed fears on its slowdown. Jeff Grossman talks to TheStreet's Susannah Lee on this and more on the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration (EIA) report. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins