Meeting report

Basic school on crystallography

Siena, Italy, August 27-September 2, 2006

[Tutorial]Photo of hands-on tutorial session at the IUCr Siena 2006 teaching school
A Basic School on Crystallography was hosted in “La Certosa di Pontignano” an old convent now belonging to the U. of Siena (www.unisi.it/servizi/certosa/certosa_ingl/index.html). Fifty participants mainly from Europe but also from North America, the Middle East, Africa and India attended the school.

The Program Committee was composed of G. Chapuis (coordinator, EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland, gervais.chapuis@epfl .ch), A.J. Blake (Nottingham,UK), A. Gavezzotti (Milan, Italy), and R. Neder (Wuerzburg, Germany). The Local Organizers were Marcello Mellini (U. of Siena, mellini@unisi,it), and Paola Spadon (U. of Padova, paola.spadon@unipd.it) Because basic crystallographic curricula are disappearing in most academic institutions, the Executive Committee of the IUCr proposed that its teaching Commission (www.iucr.org/iucr-top/comm/cteach/) organize an International School on Basic Crystallography. The result was an intensive one week course in Siena. The organization of the first school was based on the model used by the British Crystallography Assn (BCA) which has been extremely popular since its inception. The school was supported by the IUCr, the BCA, the Italian Crystallographic Assn and the U. of Siena.

The topics were presented to the students in two roughly equal forms, namely ex cathedra teaching and tutoring. The lecturers were experienced crystallographers with extensive experience in teaching. After a general introduction to crystallography, the students acquired elementary notions of matrices and group theory to familiarize them with the concept of space group symmetry. This led to a description of crystalline structures based on space group, lattice constants and atomic coordinates followed by discussions of various X-ray and neutron diffraction techniques based on single crystal and powder methods. Techniques of data acquisition, structure solution and refinement followed by the derivation and interpretation of results were also presented. Finally, they were introduced to the retrieval of information from numerous crystallographic databases. Following the presentation of each topic, tutors worked with the students in small groups to solve practical exercises.

Lecturers and specific topics: Peter Main (York, UK) math refresher, direct methods and refinement; David Watkin (Oxford, UK) refinement, Bob Gould (Edinburgh, UK) symmetry and Fourier/Patterson; Jacqueline Cole (Cambridge, UK) data acquisition and neutrons/synchrotron; Sandy Blake (Nottingham, UK) data acquisition, Gervais Chapuis (EPFL, Switzerland) databases; Giovanni Ferraris (Milano, Italy) twinning; Giuseppe Cruciani (Ferrara, Italy) introduction to diffraction and powder studies; Tony Linden (Zurich, Switzerland) derivation of structural results, analysis and interpretation; and Bernd Schweizer (ETHZ, Switzerland) databases.

The students could download the teaching materials including lecture notes and a set of exercises for each topic before arriving. After the school, the students could download the presentations and the solution of the exercises.

Gervais Chapuis
[Teaching school participants]IUCr Siena 2006 teaching school participants