Israeli scientist Daniel Shechtman won the 2011 Nobel Prize in chemistry on Wednesday for his discovery of quasicrystals a mosaic-like chemical structure that researchers previously thought was impossible.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said Shechtman's discovery in 1982 fundamentally changed the way chemists look at solid matter. It initially faced strong objections from the scientific community.
Contrary to the previous belief that atoms were packed inside crystals in symmetrical patterns, Shechtman showed that the atoms in a crystal could be packed in a pattern that could not be repeated, the academy said.
"His battle eventually forced scientists to reconsider their conception of the very nature of matter " the academy said.