Meeting report

6th Singapore national crystal growing challenge

Singapore, September, 2004 

[Bar]K3[Fe(CN)6] bar (weight, 217.77 g and measuring 17.5 x 2.7 x 3.1 cm3)
The wonderful colors, well-developed faces, sharp edges and artistic forms displayed by crystals of naturally occurring minerals have given rise to their use in precious jewelry and admiration as art objects. Growing crystals of a desired size and shape is considered an art as well as a science. The Dept. of Chemistry at the National U. of Singapore and Singapore National Inst. of Chemistry (SNIC) have organized the 6th Singapore National Crystal Growing Challenge for secondary school, junior college and polytechnic students. The students had an opportunity to show their creativity in the form of crystals and learn the science of growing crystals. Further, growing your own crystals can be a creative way to learn many aspects of basic physics, chemistry, geology and biology. Above all crystal growing is lots of fun!

[Crystal]KH2PO4 crystal (weight, 201.28 g and dimensions, 14.1 x 2.8 x 2.9 cm3)
There were three categories in this year's competition, Junior (for secondary school students), Senior (for Junior college and polytechnic students) and Open levels. For the junior level category, the students were asked to grow crystals of blue-green copper acetate monohydrate, Cu(CH3CO2)2.H2O. The senior level students were challenged to grow colourless sodium nitrate crystals. The students in these categories were frustrated by the fact that they were unable to grow very big crystals like alum in the previous contest. On the other hand, the students for the open level were given the task of growing the longest single crystal so to exercise their creativity and scientific knowledge. The ratio of the length to the average of the other two dimensions was used as an important factor for judging. The greenish-yellow potassium chromate doped KDP (KH2PO4) crystal (weight, 201.28 g and dimensions, 14.1 x 2.8 x 2.9 cm3) was chosen as the open category champion due to its scientific ingenuity over the first runner-up, a dark blood-red crystal of K3[Fe(CN)6] weighing 217.77 g and measuring 17.5 x 2.7 x 3.1 cm3. In Singapore, this crystal growing challenge has been a very popular event among secondary-schools. This year, there were 168 entries from 68 educational institutions. This year’s competition was once again generously sponsored by Bruker Singapore Pte Ltd, Lee Foundation of Singapore and the Singapore National Academy of Science. Details of this challenge and the names of the winners are available at the website: www.chemistry.nus.edu.sg/ncgc/index.html.

Jagadese J. Vittal and Edward R.T. Tiekink