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10/23/14

Lecture and Summer School: MPI contributes to International Yeat of Crystallography

Mülheim/Ellwangen.  Crystals exist everywhere in nature, for example as snowflakes or as minerals. But also synthetic crystals play an important role in our everyday life: as crystalline active component of medicine or as nano-crystals in catalysis. The United Nations have decided to proclaim 2014 as the International Year of Crystallography. One reason for this is that the physicist Max von Laue was elected as Nobel laureate exactly 100 years ago. Von Laue found out that x-rays are deflected by the atomic structure of crystalline solids.

At the Max Planck Institut für Kohlenforschung the science of crystallography is essential. With the help of crystallography synthetic products of chemical experiments can be analyzed precisely, and the connections between structure and characteristics of samples are explored. That is why the institute decided to take part in the International Year of Crystallography – with a Scientific Summer School and a public Lecture.

The number of institutions that offer lectures on the basics of crystallography, on modern experimental possibilities and on data analysis is decreasing, explains Dr. Claudia Weidenthaler, crystallographer and group leader at the MPI. Together with other Max Planck Scientists from other institutes (Fritz-Haber-Institute, Max Planck Institute for Iron Research, Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research) she organized the Summer School “Theory and Practise of Modern Powder Diffraction” in Ellwangen/Baden-Württemberg.

“Our workshop focused on Powder Diffraction”, explains Claudia Weidenthaler, “an important analytical method to characterize crystalline solids.”  The participants worked on algorithms to explore new crystal structures, on real structure analysis or on analysis of matter under reaction conditions. About 100 scientists from Germany and abroad took part: Master students, PhD students and other young scientists from the field of solid state research. Ten top-class lectures gave a deeper insight into the different work areas. Each participant also had the opportunity to speak about his or her own research field. “The summer school was a great success for all of us”, states Claudia Weidenthaler.

The lecture given by Prof. Roland Boese (University of Duisburg-Essen) at the institute in October was meant for the general public. He introduced polymorph structures of drugs, natural gasoline supplies on the sea ground and frozen gases on moons. The lecture was initiated by Prof. Christian Lehmann, head of service department of Chemical Crystallography and electron microscopy at the institute.

Boese talked about different crystalline structures within medicine, for example in Aspirin. He introduced “fire ice”, so natural gas hydrates. More than 80 listeners, many of them citizens of the neighborhood, were keen on learning about his research projects and asked a lot of questions during the discussion part of the talk.

To make crystallography more visible – this is one of the goals of the International Year of Crystallography. The Max Planck Institut für Kohlenforschung has made its contribution.