Dead Beat learns that Pierre-Gilles de Gennes died on Friday in Orsay, Paris. De Gennes was awarded the 1991 Nobel Prize in physics for his work on liquid crystals, the form of matter that possess the fluidity of liquids but which can line up in an ordered state like solids.
Liquid crystals were known since the 1920s, but it was de Gennes who helped explain the mathematical and physical rules behind them, paving the way for further study and practical applications. Liquid crystals are now used in everything from pocket calculators to laptop computer screens.
He also established connections between the behaviour of liquid crystals and the behaviour of superconductors, two areas of study previously unconnected.