Dan Shechtman is the Philip Tobias Professor of Materials Science at the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2011 was awarded to Dan Shechtman "for the discovery of quasicrystals."
Shechtman was the sole winner of the Nobel prize for chemistry in 2011, for his discovery of seemingly impossible crystal structures in metal alloys. Instead of the regular pattern seen in other crystallised materials, the atoms in his "quasiperiod materials" were arranged so that they were regular but never repeated. It is a type of pattern seen in the tiled Islamic mosaics at the Alhambra Palace in Spain and the Darb-i Imam shrine in Iran, but which had never been thought could exist in nature. His discovery in the early 1980s changed chemistry, but convincing some parts of the establishment was not easy. Scientists have subsequently found naturally occurring quasi-periodic crystals in minerals in a Russian river and a Swedish steel company found that these types of crystal were responsible for the strength of some of its ultra-strong steels. Scientists are now working out ways to use quasi-periodic crystals in everything from diesel engines to frying pans.