JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israeli Prof. Daniel Shechtman received the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his 1982 discovery of quasicrystals, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (RSAS) announced Wednesday.
Shechtman's discovery showed that the pattern of atoms inside crystals do not repeat themselves, a find that fundamentally changed the way chemists view solid matter, the RSAS said, calling it the "fascinating mosaics of the Arabic world reproduced at the level of atoms."
"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 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," the Academy said.
Israel's newest Nobel laureate teaches at the Technion -- Israel Institute of Technology -- in Haifa. The prize includes a $1.46 million (10 million Swedish Kroner) grant.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Shechtman made the Jewish people proud.
"Every Israeli is happy today and every Jew in the world is proud," the prime minister said in a statement issued by his office.
In 2009, Israeli Weizmann Institute chemist Ada Yonath received the Nobel Prize in chemistry for research on ribosomes in producing antibiotics.
Since the re-establishment of Israel in 1948, ten Israelis have been recipients of the Nobel Prize.