Learn about crystallography through watching


Below are listed some interesting video clips, webcasts, television programmes and films that explain crystallography. Click on the large images to download a video file, watch the clip, or be directed to an external website. Click on the smaller images for more information.

A selection of videos from the International Year of Crystallography playlist on YouTube


Rigaku International Year of Crystallography 2014 Sponsor Video

Rigaku was one of the sponsors of the IYCr2014 Opening Ceremony and this video was prepared for the event and shown to the audience during the second day.

Category: Science & Technology. Duration: 2m 10s
Licence: Standard YouTube Licence

The Royal Institution Crystallography Collection

[celebrating crystallography displays a laser diffraction pattern]

Forbidden crystal symmetry in mathematics and architecture

Revealing forbidden symmetry

Sir Roger Penrose provides a unique insight into the "forbidden symmetry" of his famous penrose tiles and the use of non-repeating patterns in design and architecture. It is a rigorous mathematical theorem that the only crystallographic symmetries are 2-fold, 3-fold, 4-fold, and 6-fold symmetries.

Yet, since the 1970s 5-fold, 8-fold, 10-fold and 12-fold "almost" symmetric patterns have been exhibited, showing that such crystallographically "forbidden symmetries" are mathematically possible and deviate from exact symmetry by an arbitrarily small amount. Such patterns are often beautiful to behold and designs based on these arrangements have now been used in many buildings throughout the world.

In this Ri event Sir Roger Penrose reveals the mathematical underpinnings and origins of these "forbidden symmetries" and other related patterns. His talk is illustrated with numerous examples of their use in architectural design including a novel version of "Penrose tiling" that appears in the approach to the main entrance of the new Mathematics Institute in Oxford, officially opened in late 2013.

The tiling is constructed from several thousand diamond-shaped granite tiles of just two different shapes, decorated simply with circular arcs of stainless steel. The matching of the tiles forces them into an overall pattern which never repeats itself and exhibits remarkable aspects of 5-fold and 10-fold symmetry.

Similar features have been found also in the atomic structures of quasi-crystalline materials. The initial discovery of such material earned Dan Shectman the 2011 Nobel Prize for chemistry, his work having launched a completely novel area of crystallography.

Images of the completed Mathematics Institute in Oxford courtesy of Vanesa Penrose. The filming and production of this event was supported by the Science and Technology Facilities Council. Production by Edward Prosser. Additional camera operation by Mark Billy Svensson. 

Published: 2014
Filmed: 2013. Duration: 58m 13s
Credits: Royal Institution

License: © Royal Institution

The Mystery of the Giant Crystals

[Inside the Naica cave]The film El Misterio de los Cristales Gigantes (The Mystery of the Giant Crystals) has been made freely available by Madrid Scientific Films and Triana Sci & Tech with the support of the International Union of Crystallography as an educational contribution to the International Year of Crystallography 2014. Written and presented by Juan Manuel García Ruiz and directed by Javier Trueba, the film tells the story of the scientific investigation into the nature and properties of the giant gypsum crystals found in a silver mine in Mexico in 2000.


Follow this link to read more about the project or to donate to the work of Triana Sci & Tech

Streaming HD video

Click on the images below to view the film in high definition in English, Spanish, Italian or French.

[Inside the Naica caves]

The Mystery of the Giant Crystals

The Cave of the Crystals (Cueva de los Cristales) in the Naica Mine, Chihuahua, Mexico, houses some of the largest natural crystals ever found. They are selenite, a form of the mineral gypsum (CaSO4.2H2O). Juan Manuel Garcíia Ruiz and his colleagues investigate the conditions under which these huge crystals have grown over the course of thousands of years. The temperatures in the subterranean caverns are over 50°C, and the caves are filled with water containing a variety of minerals leached from the surrounding rocks.

Duration: 50m 53s

© 2014 Trianatech.com - All rights reserved

[Inside the Naica caves]

El Misterio de los Cristales Gigantes

La Cueva de los Cristales en la mina de Naica, Chihuahua, México, alberga algunos de los más grandes cristales naturales que se han encontrado. Son selenito, una forma del yeso mineral (CaSO4.2H2O). Juan Manuel García Ruiz y sus colegas investigan las condiciones en que estos enormes cristales han crecido a lo largo de miles de años. Las temperaturas en las cavernas subterráneas son más de 50° C, y las cuevas están llenas de agua que contiene una variedad de minerales lixiviados de las rocas circundantes.

Duration: 50m 54s

© 2014 Trianatech.com - All rights reserved

[Inside the Naica caves]

Il Mistero dei Cristalli Giganti

La Grotta dei Cristalli (Cueva de los Cristales) nella miniera di Naica, Chihuahua, Messico, ospita alcuni dei più grandi cristalli naturali mai trovati. Si tratta di cristalli di selenite, una particolare forma di gesso (CaSO4.2H2O). Juan Manuel García Ruiz e i suoi colleghi indagano sulle condizioni in cui questi enormi cristalli sono cresciuti nel corso di migliaia di anni. La temperatura nelle caverne sotterranee è oltre 50° C, e le grotte sono riempite con acqua contenente una varietà di minerali lisciviati dalle rocce circostanti.

Duration: 50m 58s

© 2014 Trianatech.com - All rights reserved

[Inside the Naica caves]

Le Mystère des Cristaux Géants

La Grotte des Cristaux (Cueva de los Cristales) dans la mine de Naica, Chihuahua, Mexique, abrite quelques-uns des plus grands cristaux naturels jamais trouvés. Ils sont sélénite, une forme de gypse minéral (CaSO4.2H2O). Juan Manuel García Ruiz et ses collègues enquêtent sur les conditions dans lesquelles ces énormes cristaux ont grandi au cours de milliers d'années. Les températures dans les cavernes souterraines sont plus de 50° C, et les grottes sont remplis avec de l'eau contenant une variété de minéraux lessivés des roches environnantes.

Duration: 50m 58s

© 2014 Trianatech.com - All rights reserved

Educational videos

[Electron density map, protein model and crystal]

Diving into the heart of the molecules of life

Taking atomic snapshots is very important to biologists who want to understand the architecture of the macromolecules that make up our cells. However, these nano-objects are far too small to be observed with a microscope. This is why other methods such as X-ray crystallography are needed to provide accurate images at an atomic scale. This film, Diving into the heart of the molecules of life, follows the different steps of a crystallographic study and describes the work of researchers at CNRS (ARN Laboratory, Institut de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, Strasbourg), from the purification of a macromolecule from living cells, its crystallisation and the analysis of the crystals using synchrotron radiation, to the assembly of a three-dimensional image. This movie covers several aspects of scientists' work which are not widely known: the cloning of biomolecules, the use of large instruments such as synchrotron X-ray sources, and 3D visualisation.

Category: Education. Duration: 13m 26s

cc_by-nc-sa License: Creative Commons

Historical videos

[Crystallographers in Conference]

Crystallographers in Conference 1965

During the 1965 International Conference on Crystallography held in Melbourne, the opportunity was taken to record some of the great figures in the history of this subject. The twin topics forming the discussion basis for the conference were electron diffraction and the nature of defects in crystals. Among the distinguished scientists present, many had made special contributions to the research on those topics - had, in fact, pioneered a place for themselves in the story of crystallography.

Filmed at the International Crystallography Conference, 1965, Melbourne, Australia, by the CSIRO Film Unit in collaboration with the Australian Academy of Science. With support from UNESCO, the International Council of Scientific Unions, the Australian Academy of Science, the International Union of Crystallography, the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the University of Melbourne.

Category: Science & Technology. Duration (complete programme): 41m 44s
Licence: Standard YouTube Licence