Dan Shechtman

Discovery of quasicrystals

Born: 24 January 1941

Country: Israel

Nationality: Israeli

Field: Materials science

Institutions: Wright-Patterson Air Force Base; Johns Hopkins University; National Institute of Standards and Technology; Iowa State University; Technion

Known for: Quasicrystals

Notable awards: Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2011 "For the discovery of quasicrystals"

Dan Shechtman (Hebrew: דן שכטמן; born January 24, 1941) 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 theU.S. National Bureau of Standards in Washington, D.C., Shechtman discovered the icosahedral phase, which opened the new field of quasiperiodic crystals. Shechtman was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of quasicrystals, making him one of six Israelis who have won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Dan Shechtman was born in Tel Aviv, Israel. He 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.They have a son Yoav Shechtman (a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of W. E. Moerner) 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).

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, 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 titaniumaluminides. 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.

In 1992-1994 he was on sabbatical at National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), where he studied the effect of the defect structure of CVD diamond on its growth and properties. 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.

Since 2014 he has been the head of the International Scientific Council of Tomsk Polytechnic University.

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. "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. An intriguing feature of such patterns, [which are] also found in Arab mosaics, is that the mathematical constant known as the Greek letter tau, 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."

Quasicrystalline materials could be [dated info] 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, but presently have no technological applications.