"The celebration is not just for the Technion or for Israel, but for all of science," Israeli scientist Daniel Shechtman said Wednesday at a news conference after being named as the recipient of the 2011 Nobel Prize in chemistry. "There are thousands of scientists studying this subject…I believe that they see this prize as also their achievement."

Shechtman, 70, was awarded the prize for his discovery of patterns in atoms called quasicrystals, a chemical structure that researchers previously thought was impossible.

Tel Aviv-born Shechtman is a professor at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, as well as an Associate of the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory, and a professor at Iowa State University.

Both President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Shechtman on Wednesday to congratulate him on his award.

“You have given the State of Israel a wonderful gift,” Peres told Shechtman.

"I want to congratulate you on behalf of the citizens of Israel for this praiseworthy win which expresses the intellect of our people," Netanyahu said.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak also congratulated Shechtman on his achievement, calling the “groundbreaking research of Professor Shechtman ... a cause for celebration for the Technion, and Israel”.

Barak said that Shechtman's prize was “further evidence of the rare human resources that exist in Israel.”

Opposition leader and Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni said that Shechtman's prize is "the pride of Israel and the entire Jewish people". She called for increased investment in education to "continue to develop the human capital of Israel".

Education Minister Gideon Saar also congratulated Shechtman, saying "your research achievements are a source of great pride to the higher education system and the entire State of Israel.”

Shechtman will receive the 10 million kronor ($1.5 million) award along with the other Nobel Prize winners at a December 10 ceremony in Stockholm.

 

This is the third time that Israeli scientists have been awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry. In 2009, the award went to Ada Yonath, and in 2003 it was shared by Avram Hershko and Aaron Ciechanover.