Monday, January 23, 2012

Quasicrystals: 2011 International Year of Chemistry’s Nobel Moment?

It might not be the most exciting Nobel Chemistry Prize since Alfred Nobel formulated his will, but is the 2011 Nobel Prize for Chemistry on the discovery of quasicrystals one of the scientific community’s “sleeper” awards?

By: Ringo Bones

The awarding of the 2011 Nobel Chemistry Prize to the 70-year-old Israeli-born professor at Iowa State University and researcher at the United States Department of Energy named Dr. Dan Shechtman who is also a professor of materials at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel might had only received scant attention by the mainstream press. And even ridiculed by some in the scientific community when he began his work on quasicrystals by deriding his work as: “there are no quasicrystals, only quasi-scientists.” is now unanimously hailed as truly deserving of the 2011 Nobel Chemistry Prize due to the unlimited promise that his work could progress on what we currently working at from better rechargeable batteries to ultra-light yet ultra-strong metal alloys from Dr. Shechtman’s years of study on silver-aluminum quasicrystals. But what in the world are quasicrystals anyway?

According to Dr. Shechman’s research, quasicrystals are materials in which atoms were packed together in a well-defined pattern that never repeats. After years of research, quasicrystalline materials are still currently studied and some are already used in a large number of practical applications like making ultra-durable steel for use in fine instrumentation and non-stick insulation for electrical wiring and cooking equipment. Could quasicrystals someday create rechargeable lithium iron phosphate batteries that rival the power-to-weight ratio of the petrol-powered internal combustion engine?

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