French physicist, who was awarded the 1991 Nobel Prize for Physics
for his discoveries about the ordering of molecules in liquid crystals
Gennes investigated how extremely complex forms of matter behave during
the transition from order to disorder. He showed how electrically or
mechanically induced phase changes transform liquid crystals from a
transparent to an opaque state, the phenomenon exploited in liquid-crystal
displays. His research on polymers contributed to understanding how
the long molecular chains in molten polymers move, making it possible
for scientists to better determine and control polymer properties. A
few of the judges on the Nobel committee described Gennes as "the
Isaac Newton of our time" in having successfully applied mathematics
to generalized explanations of several different physical phenomena.
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