Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.
Pierre-Gilles de Gennes
The Nobel Prize in Physics 1991
Born: 24 October 1932, Paris, France
Died: 18 May 2007, Orsay, France
Affiliation at the time of the award: Collège de France, Paris, France
Prize motivation: "for discovering that methods developed for studying order phenomena in simple systems can be generalized to more complex forms of matter, in particular to liquid crystals and polymers."
Prize share: 1/1
An accumulation of matter with uniform physical and chemical properties is said to be in a certain phase, such as solid, liquid or gas. Magnetism and the orientation of molecules can also give rise to different phases. Different phases are characterized by different forms of order and disorder. During the 1970s Pierre Gilles de Gennes showed how transitions from order to disorder come about, especially for liquid crystals and polymers in solution. He demonstrated that the results apply to a number of different types of phase transitions.