Viewpoint: Announcement of winner of Nobel Prize for Chemistry

Ronan McGrath

Professor Ronan McGrath

Professor Ronan McGrath from the University’s Surface Science Research Centre comments on the announcement of Professor Danny Shectman from Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel, as the winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

Read the full BBC News story here:

Professor McGrath said: “In my opinion Danny Shechtman fully deserves the prize. Lesser scientists might have put his unusual result to one side and dismissed it as a measurement error of some sort.

“Shechtman is a careful experimentalist and trusted his own ability as a scientist. He spent more than two years learning to understand the implications of his discovery before he announced it to the scientific community in 1984.

“Even then it was initially controversial, with eminent scientists such as Linus Pauling offering alternative explanations. Eventually the weight of scientific evidence was such that his findings could not be dismissed. Today there are hundreds of scientists world-wide specialising in studying quasicrystals and their properties.

“Nature has ways of surprising us – sometimes discoveries are planned, sometimes something unexpected and wonderful such as quasicrystals comes along. They have completely changed our understanding of crystallography.”

Professor Ronan McGrath and his group at the University of Liverpool Surface Science Research Centre are world leaders in the study of the surfaces of these materials. They use microscopy techniques to image these surfaces and then use the surfaces as templates to grow novel thin films and molecular overlayers with potentially useful properties for a variety of applications.

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