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Large-scale facilities


About the International Year of Crystallography

The International Year of Crystallography 2014 (IYCr2014) commemorates not only the centennial of X-ray diffraction, which allowed the detailed study of crystalline material, but also the 400th anniversary of Kepler’s observation in 1611 of the symmetrical form of ice crystals, which began the wider study of the role of symmetry in matter.


The major objectives of the IYCr2014 are:

  • to increase public awareness of the science of crystallography and how it underpins most technological developments in our modern society
  • to inspire young people through public exhibitions, conferences and hands-on demonstrations in schools
  • to illustrate the universality of science
  • to intensify the programme Crystallography in Africa and create similar programmes in Asia and Latin America
  • to foster international collaboration between scientists worldwide, especially North–South contributions
  • to promote education and research in crystallography and its links to other sciences
  • to involve the large synchrotron and neutron radiation facilities worldwide in the celebrations of IYCr2014, including the SESAME project set up under UNESCO auspices

Activities and road map

In many of the larger countries, National Committees for Crystallography have already developed excellent educational materials that illustrate the impact of crystallography on society. IYCr2014 will be used by the IUCr and its Regional Associates as an opportunity to identify and organize these materials for broader use (with translation into major languages). A dedicated IYCr2014 web site has been established to disseminate these materials, and some will be developed into exhibits and demonstrations. This project will promote and create intense international collaborations.

IYCr2014 will have a strong educational component aimed at students of all ages. Countries that have experience in crystallographic education will organize and participate in training in countries that do not have a large crystallographic community. The IUCr already arranged many successful workshops and schools to provide such training, and during IYCr2014 will organize schools in Africa, South America and Asia.

Three travelling exhibitions for students are planned, one each in Africa, Asia and Latin America in collaboration with diffractometer manufacturers. These exhibitions will have a hub in each region. From the hub, the exhibition will travel to selected universities with two or three instructors; for other universities, bursaries will be given for students to attend a regional exhibition at the hub. The exhibitions will comprise posters and lectures or workshops, along with hands-on experiments including the use of mobile diffractometers. The exhibitions will also be associated with a subsequent fellowship after 2014. This activity that will increase global awareness of crystallography and, in the longer term, will have an impact on international collaborations and the worldwide development of science-based technologies.

The 43 Adhering Bodies of the IUCr, representing 52 countries, and its three Regional Associates have been invited to generate ideas for appropriate activities. Proposals will be listed on the IYCr2014 website.

Activities will include:

  • Organizing travelling hands-on exhibitions
  • Launching an open-access crystallography journal
  • Providing all levels of students, from pre-school to university, with crystallography demonstrations at appropriate levels
  • Publicizing the contributions that crystallographers make to the global economy by submitting articles to the press and to magazines or developing television and radio programmes
  • Sponsoring poster exhibitions highlighting the usefulness and wonders of crystallography
  • Organizing problem-solving projects through which students can use their knowledge of crystallography, physics and chemistry
  • Publicizing the contributions that crystallography has made to improve lives, particularly recent developments in drug design and material science
  • Organizing crystal-growing competitions
  • Interacting with governments to underscore the importance of a strong crystallographic education
  • Organizing consultations concerning the best ways to save all diffraction data collected in large-scale facilities and crystallography laboratories

A “toolkit” of ideas for organizers of IYCr2014 events will be made available. The IYCr2014 web site will include links to national crystallography celebrations worldwide and list IYCr2014 activities.