A major initiative of IYCr2014 to promote international cooperation and capacity building


The IUCr-UNESCO OpenLab is a network of operational crystallographic laboratories based in different countries worldwide, many in less endowed regions of Africa, South and Central America and South Asia. This initiative is aimed at allowing access to crystallographic knowledge and technology in all parts of the world, key for the fruitful development of science, and to open possibilities for conducting high-level research.

OpenLab is a joint initiative of the International Union of Crystallography and UNESCO, started as one of the main actions for the International Year of Crystallography 2014. Activities are normally conducted in partnership with major equipment manufacturers as well as with other institutions.

Scientific Coordinator: Michele Zema, IUCr Executive Outreach Officer (mz@iucr.org)

Aims and objectives 

The purpose of the IUCr-UNESCO OpenLab initiative is manifold:

  • in threshold countries, the idea is to establish crystallographic research centres and the purchase of advanced instrumentation;
  • in hub countries, the idea is to increase the technological base and spark interest in youngsters;
  • in less privileged countries, the idea is to start some crystallographic activity.

An OpenLab normally combines crystallography lectures and hands-on tutorials with some science policy activities. Involvement of local Universities and institutions, and of the local scientific community is fundamental to guarantee a follow-up to the initiative and make it sustainable.


OpenLab Type 1

New installations of crystallographic instrumentation. Such instrumentation will allow the birth of new crystallographic research centres and will act as hubs hosting students and researchers from hosting and neighbouring countries.

OpenLab Type 2

These OpenLabs are based in research centers where crystallographic instrumentation is already operational. These laboratories will host workshops, tutorials and hands-on experiments for students and young professors coming from the host and nearby countries. 

Travelling Lab

A portable instrument will move through different locations in a country and at each stop it will serve as the basis for a crystallographic school, including tutorials about the use of the instrument and related software. A Travelling Lab has been implemented in Morocco in 2014.



Workshops are held in the factories of the diffractometer manufacturer companies. These workshops are open to students and young professors who already have some background in crystallography. They will also be focused on technical aspects and maintenance of crystallographic instrumentation. The STOE-Dectris-Xenocs OpenFactory has been implemented in 2014.

OpenLab calendar

 DatesTypeLocationPartnersMore information
LAAAMP Bruker OpenLab Benin 13th May 2019 - 24th May 2019 OpenLab Type 1 Cotonou
Bruker OpenLab Ghana 28th Jan 2019 - 2nd Feb 2019 Travelling Lab Accra
Malvern Panalytical OpenLab Turkey 2 10th Sep 2018 - 13th Sep 2018 OpenLab Type 2 Ankara
Bruker OpenLab Côte d'Ivoire 22nd Mar 2018 - 31st Mar 2018 OpenLab Type 1 Abidjan
Côte d'Ivoire
LAAMP OpenLab Costa Rica 4th Dec 2017 - 9th Dec 2017 OpenLab Type 2 San José
Costa Rica
IUCr-IUPAP-ICTP OpenLab Senegal 20th Nov 2017 - 2nd Dec 2017 OpenLab Type 1 Ziguinchor
Bruker OpenLab Cameroon 6th Oct 2016 Travelling Lab Dschang
Rigaku OpenLab Bolivia 12th Sep 2016 - 16th Sep 2016 OpenLab Type 2 La Paz
Bruker OpenLab Albania 30th May 2016 - 3rd Jun 2016 Travelling Lab Tirana
Bruker OpenLab Uruguay 2 23rd Feb 2016 - 29th Feb 2016 OpenLab Type 2 Montevideo
Rigaku OpenLab Cambodia 2 11th Jan 2016 - 15th Jan 2016 OpenLab Type 2 Phnom Penh
Bruker OpenLab Vietnam 2 7th Dec 2015 - 11th Dec 2015 OpenLab Type 2 Hanoi
Bruker OpenLab Senegal 5th Oct 2015 - 10th Oct 2015 Travelling Lab Ziguinchor
PANalytical OpenLab Mexico 2 29th Sep 2015 - 2nd Oct 2015 OpenLab Type 2 Puebla
CCDC OpenLab Kenya 6th Sep 2015 - 12th Sep 2015 OpenLab Type 2 Nairobi
Bruker OpenLab Tunisia 14th May 2015 - 23rd May 2015 Travelling Lab Monastir and Nabeul
Bruker OpenLab Algeria 9th May 2015 - 14th May 2015 OpenLab Type 2 Constantine
PANalytical OpenLab Turkey 19th Jan 2015 - 22nd Jan 2015 OpenLab Type 2 Ankara
Bruker OpenLab Vietnam 8th Dec 2014 - 12th Dec 2014 OpenLab Type 2 Ho Chi Minh City
Agilent OpenLab Hong Kong 3rd Dec 2014 - 7th Dec 2014 OpenLab Type 2 Hong Kong
Hong Kong
PANalytical OpenLab Mexico 18th Nov 2014 - 21st Nov 2014 OpenLab Type 2 Mexico City
Rigaku OpenLab Colombia 27th Oct 2014 8:30am - 31st Oct 2014 6:00pm OpenLab Type 2 Bucaramanga
STOE DECTRIS Xenocs OpenFactory 10th Sep 2014 - 19th Sep 2014 OpenFactory Grenoble and Darmstadt
France and Germany
Agilent OpenLab Turkey 1st Sep 2014 - 5th Sep 2014 OpenLab Type 2 Izmir
Bruker OpenLab Indonesia 18th Aug 2014 - 22nd Aug 2014 Travelling Lab Bandung
Bruker OpenLab Uruguay 23rd Jul 2014 - 31st Jul 2014 OpenLab Type 1 Montevideo
Rigaku OpenLab Cambodia 7th Jul 2014 - 11th Jul 2014 OpenLab Type 2 Phnom Penh
PANalytical OpenLab Ghana 9th Jun 2014 - 12th Jun 2014 OpenLab Type 2 University of Ghana, Accra
Bruker OpenLab Morocco 20th May 2014 - 20th Jun 2014 Travelling Lab Rabat and Agadir
Agilent OpenLab Argentina 5th May 2014 - 10th May 2014 OpenLab Type 2 La Plata and Buenos Aires
Bruker OpenLab Pakistan 30th Apr 2014 - 8th May 2014 OpenLab Type 2 Karachi

Map of OpenLab sites

This map (current as of 18 June 2019) shows the OpenLabs held so far or planned, and some main events for IYCr2014. It is subject to change as new locations may be confirmed. Please check frequently for the latest version. 

[OpenLabs map]

The IUCr Crystallography in Africa initiative

The IUCr already has considerable experience in the development of programmes and activities for dissemination of crystallography in the developing regions. The OpenLab project has been influenced by the IUCr Crystallography in Africa initiative, which was approved in 1999 by the IUCr Executive Committee following a proposal of Jan Boeyens from South Africa.

This initiative is aimed at providing training in crystallography teaching and research methods to faculty members and students from the most disadvantaged parts of the world. Since its launch, the IUCr has organized a number of courses, initially in English-speaking African countries in collaboration with the South African Crystallographic Association. More recently, the IUCr Crystallography in Africa initiative has developed rapidly with activities in several countries, such as Congo, Cameroon, Senegal and Ivory Coast. These activities have been implemented in collaboration with a diffractometer manufacturer company, namely Bruker, and new operational laboratories have been installed with instrumentation supplied by the company. The IUCr has covered transportation expenses and the recipient university the maintenance expenses.

[Installing a diffractometer in Cameroon] [Installing a diffractometer in Cameroon]
Local staff and students assist in the installation and testing of a Bruker diffractometer at the University of Dschang, Cameroon, west Africa, in March 2013. (Photographs courtesy of Claude Lecomte)