Dan Shechtman

Dan Shechtman
Dan Shechtman
דן שכטמן

Born January 24, 1941 (1941-01-24) (age 70)
Tel Aviv, British Mandate of Palestine
Residence Israel
Citizenship Israel
Fields Materials Science
Institutions Wright Patterson Air Force Base
Johns Hopkins University
Iowa State University
Technion - Israel Institute of Technology
Alma mater Technion - Israel Institute of Technology
Known for Quasicrystals
Notable awards Wolf Prize in Physics (1998)
Israel Prize (1999)
Nobel Prize in Chemistry (2011)

Dan Shechtman (Hebrew: דן שכטמן) (born January 24, 1941 in Tel Aviv)[1] is the Philip Tobias Professor of Materials Science at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, an Associate of the US Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory, and Professor of Materials Science at Iowa State University. On April 8, 1982, while on sabbatical at the U.S. National Bureau of Standards in Washington, D.C., Shechtman discovered the icosahedral phase, which opened the new field of quasiperiodic crystals.[2] He was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for "the discovery of quasicrystals".[3]

Technion President Peretz Lavie, Dan Shechtman and Wayne Kaplan at the Nobel Prize press conference at Technion, Israel.



After receiving his Ph.D. in Materials Engineering from the Technion in 1972, where he also obtained his B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering in 1966 and M.Sc. in Materials Engineering in 1968,[1] Prof. Shechtman was an NRC fellow at the Aerospace Research Laboratories at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio, where he studied for three years the microstructure and physical metallurgy of titanium aluminides. In 1975 he joined the department of materials engineering at Technion. In 1981–1983 he was on Sabbatical at Johns Hopkins University, where he studied rapidly solidified aluminum transition metal alloys, in a joint program with NBS. During this study he discovered the Icosahedral Phase which opened the new field of quasiperiodic crystals.

Discrediting the work

Shechtman experienced several years of hostility toward his non-periodic interpretation (no less a figure than Linus Pauling said he was "talking nonsense" and "There is no such thing as quasicrystals, only quasi-scientists."[4]).

The head of Shechtman's research group told him to "go back and read the textbook" and then "asked him to leave for 'bringing disgrace' on the team."[when?] Shechtman felt rejected.[4]

The Nobel Committee at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said that "his discovery was extremely controversial," but that his work "eventually forced scientists to reconsider their conception of the very nature of matter."[4]

Confirmation of experimental results

Later,[when?] other scientists began to confirm and accept empirical findings of the existence of quasicrystals.[5][6]

Shechtman's Nobel Prize winning work was in the area of quasicrystals, ordered crystalline materials lacking repeating structures, such as this Al-Pd-Mn alloy.[7]

Through Shechtman's discovery, several other groups were able to form similar quasicrystals,[when?] finding these materials to have low thermal and electrical conductivity, while possessing high structural stability. Quasicrystals have also been found naturally. Quasicrystalline materials could be used in a large number of applications, including the formation of durable steel used for fine instrumentation, and non-stick insulation for electrical wires and cooking equipment.[8] [9] For this discovery, Shechtman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2011.[8]

Later career

In 1992–1994 he was on sabbatical at National Institute of Standards and Technology, where he studied the effect of the defect structure of CVD diamond on its growth and properties. Prof. Shechtman's Technion research is conducted in the Louis Edelstein Center, and in the Wolfson Centre which is headed by him. He served on several Technion Senate Committees and headed one of them.

Shechtman joined the Iowa State faculty in 2004. He currently spends about five months a year in Ames on a part-time appointment.[10][11]

Shechtman was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for "the discovery of quasicrystals",[3] by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which granted him a "10-million crown ($1.5-million) award."[4]


A quasiperiodic crystal, or, in short, quasicrystal, is a structure that is ordered but not periodic. A quasicrystalline pattern can continuously fill all available space, but it lacks translational symmetry.[12]

"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."[4]

"An intriguing feature of such patterns, [which are] also found in Arab mosaics, is that the mathematical constant known as the Greek letter phi, or the "golden ratio", occurs over and over again. Underlying it is a sequence worked out by Fibonacci in the 13th century, where each number is the sum of the preceding two."[4]


Dan Shechtman is married to Prof. Tzipora Shechtman, Head of the Department of Counseling and Human Development at Haifa University, and author of two books on psychotherapy.[13][14] They have a son Yoav Shechtman (a PhD student in physics) and three daughters: Tamar Finkelstein (an organizational psychologist at the Israeli police leadership center), Ella Shechtman-Cory (a PhD in clinical psychology), and Ruth Dougoud-Nevo (also a PhD in clinical psychology).[15][16]


See also


  1. ^ a b Dan Shechtman – Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities
  2. ^ "Israeli Wins Chemistry Nobel For Quasicrystals". npr.org. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=141067724. Retrieved 2011-10-05. 
  3. ^ a b c "Dan Shechtman – Biographical". Nobelprize.org. http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/chemistry/laureates/2011/shechtman.html. Retrieved 2011-10-05. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Lannin, Patrick (2011-10-05). "Ridiculed crystal work wins Nobel for Israeli". Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/05/nobel-chemistry-idUSL5E7L51U620111005. Retrieved 2011-10-22. 
  5. ^ Bradley, David (Oct. 5, 2011). "Dan Shechtman discusses quasicrystals". ScienceBase. http://www.sciencebase.com/science-blog/dan-shechtman-discusses-quasicrystals-nobelprize.html. Retrieved 5 October 2011.  Shechtman video interview
  6. ^ "Clear as crystal". Haaretz. 2011-04-01. http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/magazine/clear-as-crystal-1.353504. Retrieved 2011-10-06. 
  7. ^ Ünal, B; V. Fournée, K.J. Schnitzenbaumer, C. Ghosh, C.J. Jenks, A.R. Ross, T.A. Lograsso, J.W. Evans, and P.A. Thiel (2007). "Nucleation and growth of Ag islands on fivefold Al-Pd-Mn quasicrystal surfaces: Dependence of island density on temperature and flux". Physical Review B 75: 064205. Bibcode 2007PhRvB..75f4205U. doi:10.1103/PhysRevB.75.064205. http://link.aps.org/doi/10.1103/PhysRevB.75.064205. 
  8. ^ a b Van Noorden, Richard (2011-10-05). "Impossible crystals snag chemistry Nobel". nature. http://www.nature.com/news/2011/111005/full/news.2011.572.html. Retrieved 2011-10-05. 
  9. ^ Carpenter, Jennifer (2011-10-05). "Nobel win for crystal discovery". BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15181187. Retrieved 2011-10-05. 
  10. ^ Iowa State prof wins Nobel in chemistry (Chicago Tribune, October 5, 2011)
  11. ^ Iowa State, Ames Laboratory, Technion Scientist Wins Nobel Prize in Chemistry
  12. ^ Janot, Christian (1997). Quasicrystals – a primer, 2nd ed.. Oxford University Publishing. 
  13. ^ Professor Zipora Shechtman
  14. ^ He deserves it, wife of 2011 Nobel Chemistry laureate says
  15. ^ Shechtman Wins Chemistry Nobel for Crystal Find
  16. ^ Genealogy of the Shechtman family
  17. ^ Asaf Shtull-Trauring, "Israel's Daniel Shechtman wins 2011 Nobel Prize in chemistry", Haaertz, October 4, 2011
  18. ^ "Wolf Prize Recipients in Physics". Wolffund.org.il. http://www.wolffund.org.il/cat.asp?id=25&cat_title=PHYSICS. Retrieved 2011-10-05. 
  19. ^ "Israel Prize Official Site – Recipients in 1998 (in Hebrew)". http://cms.education.gov.il/EducationCMS/Units/PrasIsrael/TashnagTashsab/TASNAG_TASNAT_Rikuz.htm?DictionaryKey=Tashnach. 

Further reading

External links

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