Professor Shechtman is a distinguished professor in the department of materials engineering at the Israel Institute of Technology, known at the Technion.
He discovered quasicrystals - regular but non-repeating patterns of atoms - in 1982 but it was a long time before their existence was widely accepted.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the discovery fundamentally altered how chemists conceived of solid matter, since previously they had believed that all crystals consisted of entirely regular, repeating configurations of atoms.
In 2008 Professor Shechtman was tipped for the Nobel Prize in physics by Thomson Reuters citation analyst David Pendlebury.
The winners of the 2011 prizes in physics and physiology or medicine, announced earlier this week, had also previously been predicted by Mr Pendlebury.