Two-Day Symposium Honors Work of Prof. Daniel Shechtman

January 13, 2011
By: Jennifer Frey

The Technion celebrated Distinguished Professor Daniel Shechtman’s 70th birthday with a special two-day (January 12-13) symposium honoring his work, which opened up the field of quasicrystals as an area of study in crystallography, physics, chemistry and materials science.

“Symposium On Quasicrystals,” hosted by the Department of Materials Engineering, drew nearly two dozen scientists from international universities and centers including: Walter Steurer of the ETH in Zurich, Switzerland; M. de Boissieu of the CNRS in Grenoble, France and A. P. Tsai from Tohoku University in Japan. Lectures covered the esoteric: “Phason Modes in Quasicrystals,” as well as more accessible topics like “Quasicrystals Gifts to Mathematics.”

Distinguished Prof. Daniel Shechtman

Distinguished Prof. Daniel Shechtman

Prof. Shechtman, the Philip Tobias Professor of Materials Science, received his undergraduate degree and post-graduate degrees from the Technion, and joined the faculty in 1975. While on Sabbatical at Johns Hopkins University and working with the National Bureau of Standards, he discovered the quasicrystal – which appeared to have the same kind of order that was inherent in a crystal, but was also symmetrical in ways that were believed to be physically impossible for a crystalline substance. He was ridiculed by the scientific community for two years until his discovery gained traction.

“If you’re a scientist and believe in your results: fight for them,” he says. “Fight for the truth.”

Today, hundreds of materials are known to exist with the structure that Prof. Shechtman discovered, and every year, a number of national and international conferences are held on this subject.

Prof. Shechtman is a distinguished professor in the Technion’s Faculty of Materials Engineering, and at the University of Iowa in the United States. He has won many prizes including the Israel Prize, the Wolf Prize, the EMET Prize, and the Aminoff Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. He is a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and the U.S. National Academy of Engineering.

Over 40 scientific books have been dedicated to quasiperiodic crystals, and in many other books, the chapters dealing with crystallography have been updated. In wake of the discovery and its proof, the International Society of Crystallographers gave has changed the basic definition of a crystal.

To watch a video about Prof. Shectman’s discovery of quasicrystals, click here.

The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is Israel’s leading science and technology university. Home to the country’s first winners of the Nobel Prize in science, it commands a worldwide reputation for its pioneering work in nanotechnology, computer science, biotechnology, water-resource management, materials engineering, aerospace and medicine. The majority of the founders and managers of Israel’s high-tech companies are alumni. Based in New York City, the American Technion Society (ATS) is the leading American organization supporting higher education in Israel, with offices around the country.