InTrans / Oct 18, 2021

Nobel Prize winner visits InTrans

InTrans staff and graduate students with Dan Shechtman (center)
InTrans staff and graduate students with Dan Shechtman (center)

As part of their weekly lecture series on October 8, Institute for Transportation (InTrans) graduate students were able to attend a presentation by Nobel Prize winner Dan Shechtman.

Shechtman is a professor at Iowa State University and the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology as well as a scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory. In 2011, he received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering crystal structures previously unknown to science: quasicrystals.

He made his discovery in 1982. However, at the time, scientists thought that all crystals had a regularly repeating “periodic” structure (i.e., organized and fixed). The structure that Shechtman discovered was completely contrary to the basic theory of crystallography and was not periodic.

It would be five more years, in 1987, before Shechtman’s findings would be accepted by the International Union of Crystallography. During that time, a paper describing his results was published, but Shechtman still had to fight for his ideas every step of the way.

Shechtman’s work has ultimately gone on to transform scientists’ understanding of how matter can arrange itself. Some of the keys to his success are his determination, professionalism, and belief in himself and his work, which is relatable to anyone in the scientific community.

To learn more about Shechtman and his discovery, visit the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) website here.