Nobel laureate Shechtman returns to campus next week

Dan Shechtman


For the first time since receiving the chemistry prize, Nobel laureate Dan Shechtman will return to campus for a few weeks this month. He will meet with students and members of the Iowa media on Feb. 14 and give a public lecture on Feb. 20.

In October, Shechtman was named the recipient of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of quasicrystals. Shechtman is a research scientist for the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory and an Iowa State professor of materials science and engineering. For about eight months each year, he serves as the Philip Tobias Professor of Materials Science at the Technion -- Israel Institute of Technology.

Feb. 14 events

Shechtman will meet with members of the Iowa media the morning of Feb. 14 (10-11 a.m., 205 TASF). Due to size limitations of the room, the news conference will be streamed live online. Members of the university community may access the streaming at this ISU Extension website.

"Your discovery of quasicrystals has created a new cross-disciplinary branch of science, drawing from, and enriching, chemistry, physics and mathematics. This is in itself of the greatest importance. It has also given us a reminder of how little we really know and perhaps even taught us some humility. That is a truly great achievement."

Prof. Sven Lidin
Dec. 10, 2011, Stockholm

From noon to 2 p.m. that day, Shechtman will meet with students at a reception in the Memorial Union Oak Room. The event will include student demonstrations of materials science, an autograph/photo session with Shechtman, tattoos and refreshments.

Public lecture

During his Feb. 20 lecture, Shechtman will talk about his initially controversial discovery of quasi-periodic crystals in 1982. He was on a two-year sabbatical from the Technion at what's now the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Md. His findings, crystalline materials whose atoms didn't line up periodically (in an array of 1, 2, 3, 4 or 6) like every crystal studied during the previous 70 years, changed long-held ideas about matter and atomic arrangement.

At the Nobel award ceremony in December in Stockholm, Sven Lidin, a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the Nobel committee for chemistry, noted that "this year's chemistry laureate was forced to do battle with the established truth."

"The disbelief that met Dan Shechtman was appropriate and healthy. Questioning should be mutual to promote the growth of knowledge," he said. "The ridicule he suffered was, however, deeply unfair."

Shechtman's lecture begins at 7 p.m. in the MU Great Hall, a reception will follow.