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ŠDecember 2011. Published by the Division of Public Affairs and Resource Development, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology. Editor: Yvette Gershon; Concept and Copywriter: Georgina Johnson; Research and Writer: Amanda Jaffe-Katz; Design: CastroNawy; Photography: Miki Koren, Eugene Weisberg, Guy Shachar, Yoav Bachar; and others

“The most important thing about the quasicrystals is their meaning for fundamental science. They have rewritten the first chapter in the textbooks of ordered matter.� Prof. Sven Lidin Professor of Inorganic Chemistry, Lund University Member of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry

Distinguished Prof. Dan Shechtman 2011 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry Philip Tobias Chair in Material Sciences Department of Materials Engineering 1 Technion - Israel Institute of Technology

“Dan is a very careful experimentalist and what he did, he did right. He violated a dogma of crystallography – at that time some 200 years old – and nevertheless defended it.” Prof. Knut Urban, Professor of Experimental Physics RWTH Aachen University

The page in Dan Shechtman’s lab logbook recording his April 8th, 1982, discovery.

©H. Mark Helfer/NIST

The first quasicrystal found in nature - khatyrkite. Natural quasicrystals (Bindi et al., 2009 – Science, 324, 1306-1309): (a) Image of the original sample belonging to the mineralogical collections of the Museo di Storia Naturale, Università di Firenze (catalog number 46407/G); (b) X-ray diffraction image of selected natural quasicrystal grains (X-ray powder pattern in the inset); (c) high-resolution transmission electron microscopy image of the natural quasicrystal indicating the five-fold symmetry.




*NIST was known as the National Bureau of Standards at the time.

Meeting at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)* in 1985 just months after shaking the foundations of materials science with publication of his discovery of quasicrystals, Dan Shechtman, winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, discusses the material’s surprising atomic structure with collaborators. From left to right are Shechtman; Frank Biancaniello, NIST; Denis Gratias, National Science Research Center, France; John Cahn, NIST; Leonid Bendersky, Johns Hopkins University (now at NIST); and Robert Schaefer, NIST.


e t i “ hechtman S ” r

te t a m w e n A whole

200 years and nobody noticed? How could quasicrystals have evaded the community of crystallographers for so long? In addition to the vital input of his collaborators, says Shechtman, the discovery required several critical components. First,

it was necessary to make esoteric, rather than useful, rapidly cooled alloys. Then a researcher would have to study them with a transmission electron microscope, perform numerous detailed analyses, and finally face a fortress of resistance to changing the rules of understanding the material world.

Back in the ’80s when the new class of matter was accepted only by a few, it was dubbed “Shechtmanite,” after the man who led the field through conception and infancy. The name “Shechtmanite” carried the risk of humiliation if the material turned out to be “twinning” (the intergrowth of two separate crystals on a

shared lattice), as claimed by Shechtman’s opponents.

On April 8, 1982, Shechtman broke open the canon of crystallography. Today, the impact of the discovery is felt across numerous fields of research as scientists unveil new properties and applications.

Electron diffraction pattern of an icosahedral Ho-Mg-Zn quasicrystal

What are quasicrystals?

A quasiperiodic crystal is a structure that is ordered but not periodic. In quasicrystals, the symmetry is broken: there are regular patterns in the structure but the structure never repeats itself. A shifted copy will never match exactly.


The story of quasicrystals “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. ” Prof. Albert Einstein President of the first Technion Society

Dan Shechtman discovered quasiperiodic crystals in April 1982, as a visiting scholar at the National Bureau of Standards in Maryland, USA. This new form of matter – also known as quasicrystals or Shechtmanite – possesses some unique and remarkable crystallographic and physical properties, embodying a novel kind of crystalline order. His findings demonstrated a clear diffraction pattern with a fivefold symmetry. The pattern was recorded from an

aluminum-manganese (Al-Mn) alloy which he had rapidly cooled after melting. Quasicrystal structure can be understood through the mathematical theory of tiling. Initially, however, Shechtman’s discovery was viewed with skepticism. “The scandal of polywater was still in the air, and I feared for my scientific and academic career,” says Shechtman.

Light on the Future In the mid-1970s, mathematician Prof. Roger Penrose, of Oxford University, created an aperiodic mosaic, with a pattern that never repeats itself, with just two different rhomboid tiles (a fat rhombus and a thin rhombus).

Shechtman returned to Technion, where Dr. Ilan Blech was the only colleague who not only believed in him but who agreed to cooperate with him. Blech was able to decipher Shechtman’s experimental findings and offered an explanation, known as the Icosahedral Glass Model. Together, the researchers wrote an article that contained the model and the experimental results, and submitted it to the Journal of Applied Physics in the summer of 1984. The paper was rejected, resubmitted to

The Technion quasicrystal legacy continues with research into photonic quasicrystals spearheaded by Distinguished Prof. Mordechai (Moti) Segev. Segev’s team was the first to demonstrate nonlinear photonic quasicrystals: dielectric materials whose refractive index varies in

a quasiperiodic fashion, and in addition change their properties when the light intensity is increased. In 2011, Segev’s team reported a direct experimental observation that transport in photonic quasicrystals is enhanced by virtue of disorder.

Material World Quasiperiodic materials have unique electrical, optical, and mechanical properties. While bulk quasicrystals tend to be brittle, surface coatings benefit from the hardness of quasicrystals. Alloys containing

quasicrystalline nanoparticles are stronger and lighter than other materials. Applications have included cookware, maraging stainless steel, surgical tools, missile skins and a storage medium for hydrogen.


© CNRS Photothèque - Pierre Grumberg

(l-r) John Werner Cahn, Dan Shechtman, Ilan Blech and Denis Gratias together on the occasion of an international congress on quasicrystals in France, 1995.

the journal Metallurgical Transactions, and was published in 1985. In November 1984, Physical Review Letters published Shechtman’s discovery in a scientific paper coauthored with three other scientists: Ilan Blech (Israel), Denis Gratias (France) and John Cahn (USA). Wider acclaim followed, mainly from physicists and mathematicians and later from crystallographers. Pioneering contributors to the field of quasicrystals are Prof. Dov

Levine of the Technion Faculty of Physics and Prof. Paul Steinhardt of Princeton University. They made the connection between a theoretical tenfold symmetry model proposed by Prof. Alan Mackay and Shechtman’s diffraction pattern, and developed the mathematical model for the structure of non-periodic icosahedral phases found in metallic alloys. Steinhardt and Levine published an article in 1984 where they described quasicrystals and their aperiodic mosaics. Quasicrystals got their name in this article.

Dov Levine (left) with Paul Steinhardt (right) at the Technion Faculty of Physics in 2006.

In August 1986, David R. Nelson wrote in Scientific American, “Shechtmanite quasicrystals are no mere curiosity. The study of quasicrystals has tied together two existing branches of theory: the theory of metallic glasses and the mathematical theory of aperiodic tilings. In doing so it has brought new and powerful tools to bear on the study of metallic alloys. Questions about long- and short-range icosahedral order should occupy solid-state physicists and materials scientists for some time to come.”

Today, over 40 scientific books have been dedicated to quasiperiodic crystals, and the International Union of Crystallography has changed its basic definition of a crystal, reducing it to the ability to produce a clear-cut diffraction pattern and acknowledging that crystallographic order can be either periodic or aperiodic.


12 “It took an enormous amount of courage for Danny to stick to his claim.” Prof. Veit Elser, Cornell University

It matters. A look at the life and spirit of the scientist who broke the rules of crystallography, and stood up for it.

“The main character in the book (The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne) is an engineer. His name was Cyrus Smith and he could do Cyrus Smith anything. He could do everything. And I wanted to be like him. Being an engineer was the dream of my life.” “Frightful indeed was the situation of these unfortunate men. They were evidently no longer masters of the machine. All their attempts were useless. The case of the balloon collapsed more and more. The gas escaped without any possibility of retaining it. Their descent was visibly accelerated, and soon after midday the car hung within 600 feet of the ocean.” This passage is about how an engineer turns an uninhabited island into a lush garden.

“I wanted to be exactly that: someone who makes everything from nothing,” says Shechtman. The Shechtman drive to be part of a young institute of technology that would shape and protect a newborn nation, makes his childhood attraction to The Mysterious Island understandable. “My mother was called Natania Ashur. Her father was Zeev Ashur and her mother was Shoshana. They came to Israel 105 years ago from Ukraine,” tells Shechtman. “Shoshana came here to study at Bezalel School of Arts – she came with her parents. Zeev Ashur was a pioneer and a socialist.” Dan Shechtman was born in Tel Aviv on January 24, 1941. His dream, when he was still in high school, was to study at the Technion. “In 1962, I commenced my studies in Mechanical Engineering at Continued on page 16 >



Quasicrystal of silver aluminum

1227 - 1234

Quasicrystaltype pattern in decagonal strapwork above an arch in the Abbasid alMustansiriyya Madrasa in Baghdad, Iraq

von Laue establishes the science of X-ray crystallography

3D model of a quasicrystal

2011 19 ’82 Dan Shechtman discovers quasicrystals










Shechtman ridiculed; paper rejected for publication

Shechtman’s discovery appears in Physical Review Letters

International Union of Crystallography congress – Shechtman finally recognized

American Physical Society International Award for New Materials

Rothschild Prize in Engineering

International Union of Crystallography amends definition of ‘crystal’

Member of Israel Academy of Sciences

Israel Prize in Physics

Wolf Prize in Physics

20 ’00 Member of U.S. National Academy of Engineering

’02 Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Gregori Aminoff Prize

EMET Prize for Science, Art and Culture

Nobel Prize in Chemistry



European Technion Materials International Research Symposium Society 25th honors Dan Anniversary Shechtman on his Award 70th Birthday

The road to Stockholm “The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Prof. Dan Shechtman at Technion Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel, for the discovery of quasicrystals.” Prof. Staffan Normark Permanent Secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, 5 October 2011

“Breaking the symmetry laws that we as crystallographers are educated on was difficult to accept... though he is such a nice man that I would work with him even if I disagreed with him.”

Prof. Ron Lifshitz, Tel Aviv University

Prof. Ada Yonath, 2009 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry Weizmann Institute of Science

Continued from page 11 >

Technion. I graduated in 1966. There was a recession and no work, so I opted to continue for a master’s degree. After my master’s I was offered an excellent post as the chief engineer in a defense-related industry, but I had already fallen in love with science. On the eve of starting the job, I notified them I wasn’t able to start, and began doctoral studies instead.” Shechtman always loved the microscope. Indeed, at his grade school, he was the first to show an interest in it. He says he fell in love with the electron microscope at Technion and perfected methods for using it. It was with the electron

L to r: Technion President Prof. Peretz Lavie; Distinguished Prof. Dan Shechtman; Swedish Ambassador Elinor Hammarskjöld; Dean of Materials Engineering Prof. Wayne Kaplan. 6 October 2011.

“He dealt with the skepticism in a very scientific and gentlemanly manner and answered his critics as every scientist should - through science.”

microscope in 1982 (as opposed to X-ray) that Dan Shechtman first noticed the 5-point symmetry — the Icosahedral Phase. It is the first structure in the field of quasiperiodic crystals, and was discovered in aluminum transition metal alloys. For a while, the discovery made him one of the most unpopular scientists in crystallography.

He instigated the Technion course in Technological Entrepreneurship in 1986, referring to it as “my baby,” and has overseen it annually ever since. Shechtman is invited to lecture worldwide about the Technological Entrepreneurship course, arousing much interest. He considers himself a missionary, “I coordinate the course with pleasure. I do it for Israel.”

Shechtman was made Distinguished Professor in 1998. He holds the Philip Tobias Chair in Material Sciences, and heads the Louis Edelstein Center for Quasicrystals and the Wolfson Centre for Interface Science in the Department of Materials Engineering.

Between 2001 and 2004, Shechtman served as chair of the sciences division of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Now as a member, he continues to oversee the translation of the Nobel Prize scientific posters into Hebrew, and their annual distribution to schools throughout the country.

Shechtman has a favorite picture of a line of a dozen German Shepherds. In front of them, with self-assured insouciance, walks a serene cat. “I felt like that cat,” he recounts. But his loyalty to his discovery never wavered. “A good scientist needs faith,” he told reporters recently, “Every scientist who wants to make a definitive contribution to humanity has to know when he’s right and to stand his ground.” This year, Shechtman celebrates his 47th wedding anniversary with his wife Tsipi. He lives in Haifa, has four children and nine grandchildren.


The TECHNION Technion is a global example of how investment in education, skills, and brainpower can shape, create, and empower a nation.

Cornerstone: 1912 Student Population: 12,849 Academic Departments: 18 Undergraduate Programs: 55 Graduate Programs: 80

Degrees Awarded: 93,002 Faculty: 622 Research Centers: 52 Buildings on campus: 90 Built-up area: 464,317m2

Technion City nestled on the slopes of Mount Carmel, Haifa


View of the Calatrava Obelisk from the Russell Berrie Promenade at the heart of Technion City.

Aerospace Engineering Architecture and Town Planning Biology Biomedical Engineering Biotechnology and Food Engineering Chemical Engineering Chemistry Civil and Environmental Engineering Computer Science Education in Technology and Science Electrical Engineering Humanities and Arts Industrial Engineering and Management Materials Engineering Mathematics Mechanical Engineering Medicine Physics



The 1st cornerstone is laid.

2000… 2004 Technion pioneers nanotechnology, advanced energy research, and life sciences and engineering

Profs. Avram Hershko (l) and Aaron Ciechanover (r) become the first Israeli scientists to receive the

Nobel Prize for their discovery of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation



Prof. Dan Shechtman receives the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of quasicrystals

Technion cornerstone centennial

First graduating class



After intense debate Hebrew is chosen over German as the language of instruction










Albert Einstein visits Technion workshops and initiates the world’s 1st Technion Society

Classes commence with 17 students in Civil Engineering and Architecture

Absorbing refugees from the Nazi regime, and enduring occupations from invading armies, Technion expands with 11 new labs and a nautical school

With a student body of 680, Technion celebrates Israel’s Declaration of Independence

With rapid growth and intense demand for skills, PM David BenGurion allocates a new site in Haifa on Mount Carmel for the Technion City of the future

Outreach programs to the developing world. A Medical School is added

The trauma of war in 1973 and the hopes for regional peace in the late 70’s affirm the central role of Technion in nation-building

From the birth of fiberoptics to the development of optoelectronics, Technion graduates pioneer the start-up nation

Immigration from the former USSR boosts the student population to 10,500


Technion joins a small group of universities to launch a student-built satellite into space


Technion Research The Brainstormer Prof. Moussa Youdim is renowned for his brain research and drug development in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Together with Prof. John Finberg, Youdim’s research led to the revolutionary Parkinsons drug Aziliect™, marketed by TEVA Phamaceuticals. He established the importance of monoamine oxidase and brain iron metabolism for brain function that can lead to cognitive impairments and neurodegenerative diseases.


GIF tiff pdf

Behind the Web The Lempel-Ziv algorithm is a mathematical formula for compressing vast amounts of information. It is the formula behind today’s communications revolution. From the birth of the internet, through to the global broadcasting of live images from Mars, we are indebted to the science behind compression and decompression made possible by the legendary Technion Profs. Jacob Ziv and Abraham Lempel in 1983.

Mysteries of Light Distinguished Prof. Mordechai (Moti) Segev discovered photorefractive solitons, random-phase solitons (also called incoherent solitons, or self-trapping of solitons made of incoherent white light from an incandescent bulb), made the first observation of 2D lattice solitons, and the first experimental demonstration of Anderson localization in a disordered periodic system. Pure Creation Prof. Shulamit Levenberg conducts interdisciplinary research in tissue engineering from human embryonic stem cells using biodegradable polymers. She revealed a breakthrough process to create living human tissue in the lab - which opened a new dimension of promise in medical research with the potential to replace damaged organs in the body.

Sniffing Out Disease Prof. Hossam Haick is developing a patented “electronic nose” that promises to detect several types of cancer in their early stages, as well as kidney disease and MS via exhaled breath. The Kiss of Life Throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, Distinguished Profs. Avram Hershko and Aaron Ciechanover unveiled the mysteries of the ubiquitin system, revealing the masterkeys of human health. The ubiquitous protein ubiquitin, they showed, is the key factor in deciding when and how a cell should regenerate. Imbalance in ubiquitin reveals itself in some of the world’s most incurable afflictions – such as cancer and neurodegenerative disorders. The discovery won the scientists the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Upwardly Motile Named one of 100 top young innovators by MIT’s Technology Review magazine, Dr. Kinneret Keren is researching nature’s genius in self-assembly: from nano-scale electronics to the motility of a living cell. Keren integrates physics and cell biology in her research, moving between real and artificial cells.


The Technion has earned a global reputation for its pioneering work in nanotechnology, life sciences, stem-cell technology, water management, sustainable energy, information technology, biotechnology, materials engineering and aerospace. It is one of just 10 universities in the world that has built and launched a satellite. It is also one of a handful of similar institutes worldwide that includes a medical school, encouraging rapid progress in biotechnology, drug development, and stem-cell technology.

Companies including Intel, Google, Microsoft, IBM, Qualcomm, Yahoo!, Hewlett Packard, and others established their operation near or even on campus, where they can take advantage of the Technion’s research power and outstanding graduates.

“We have successes, and successes that the students believe in... every student feels part of the Technion community.” Prof. Daoud Bshouty Faculty of Mathematics

From solutions for energy, medicine, the environment and a sustainable future, world scientists are united beyond borders.

Dr. Michal Bassani-Sternberg’s graduate thesis with Prof. Arie Admon introduces the concept of a simple, universal blood test for cancer and other diseases.


TECHNION FAST A Celebration of Science FACTS or vision sign off. One People, One Planet, One Life, One Matter.

World-renowned architect Santiago Calatrava designed the Technion Obelisk – a towering kinetic sculpture at the heart of Technion City, with an external skin of 224 stainless-steel ribs, arranged in eight levels. These elements vibrate day and night with a wave-like motion generated by the electric motor that sits atop the mast; each moving rib induces the sequential motion of the next, from the top level to the bottom. “The Obelisk is a celebration of science,” said Calatrava. “It celebrates the technical and mechanical as things of beauty, and is meant to mirror daily life at the Technion, one of the world’s most celebrated technical universities.”

The Obelisk stands as a tribute to the Russell Berrie Foundation on the establishment of RBNI.

It matters.

Nobel Prize 2011  

Technion - Israel Institute of Technology celebrates the reception of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry by Distinguised Prof. Dan Shechtman...

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