An Israeli scientist, Daniel Shechtman, has won this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry for finding a new way that atoms can form crystals, a discovery that scientists had considered impossible and that opened up a new way to use metals in making razor blades, light-emitting diodes, and other products.
Shechtman, 70, is a professor of materials science at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Israel. He made the discovery on April 8, 1982 -- the Nobel Committee has his original notes -- while on sabbatical at the National Bureau of Standards, now the National Institute of Standards and Technology, in Washington.
Crystals are normally made of very orderly and repetitious arrangements of atoms, but the new crystalline structure he found was orderly without being repeating.
“His discovery was extremely controversial,” the Nobel Committee notes on its website. “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.”