NIST and the Nobel: Dan Shechtman
Dan Shechtman received the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering crystal structures previously unknown to science: quasicrystals.
Quasicrystals have transformed scientists’ understanding of how matter can arrange itself and opened scientists’ minds to a whole new class of materials that can exist. At NIST, Shechtman worked on identifying new materials that could be useful to industry, as part of NIST’s mission under the U.S. Department of Commerce. His study, sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, was designed to develop aluminum-transition metal alloys for aerospace applications. In the process, he made a discovery that revolutionized scientific thinking.