Honorary doctorate conferred on Nobel Prize winner12 September 2012
Professor Dan Shechtman
Internationally renowned scientist and Nobel Laureate Professor Dan Shechtman will be conferred with an honorary doctorate on Thursday, 13 September 2012.
Professor Shechtman is the Philip Tobias Professor of Materials Science at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology an Associate of the US Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory, and Professor of Materials Science at Iowa State University.
Professor Shechtman was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of quasicrystals – a discovery that fundamentally altered how chemists conceive of solid matter.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Ed Byrne said Professor Shechtman’s professional story was an inspiration for us all.
“Professor Shechtman changed the way scientists look at the pattern of crystals and forced the scientific community to look beyond the safe ground of what was expected or possible and ask what more can there be,” Professor Byrne said.
“As scientists and students of learning, we must always question and not be afraid to assert our beliefs. It was Professor Shechtman’s belief in his findings that saw him initially ostracised by his peers before being embraced by the global scientific community and eventually rewarded with the most prestigious prize for scientific research.”
On the morning of 8 April 1982, an image counter to the laws of nature appeared in Dan Shechtman's electron microscope. In all solid matter, atoms were believed to be packed inside crystals in symmetrical patterns that were repeated periodically. For scientists, this repetition was required in order to obtain a crystal.
Professor Shechtman's image, however, showed that the atoms in his crystal were packed in a pattern that could not be repeated. Such a pattern was considered just as impossible as creating a football using only six-cornered polygons, when a sphere needs both five- and six-cornered polygons. His discovery was extremely controversial. In the course of defending his findings, he was asked to leave his research group. However, his battle eventually forced scientists to reconsider their conception of the very nature of matter.
Quasicrystalline materials can be used in a large number of applications, including the formation of durable steel used for fine instrumentation, and non-stick insulation for electrical wires and cooking equipment.
During his stay, Professor Shechtman is being hosted by the Department of Materials Engineering.
Monash Deputy Chancellor Dr Leanne Rowe AM will confer the Doctor of Laws honoris causa upon Professor Shechtman at a ceremony to be held at the Robert Blackwood Hall at the Clayton campus.