We stand at a cross-road in electron crystallography. Revolutionary advances are taking place in electron microscope imaging with a factor of four improvements over the last few years and 0.5 Angstroms now attainable. The ability to image materials is no longer limited to two dimensions, and we are starting to approach three-dimensional atomic imaging of materials. The sensitivity of these instruments is also improving rapidly, now able to image conformational changes in organic molecules and the first report suggesting imaging of single hydrogen atoms has appeared very recently in Nature. Similar rapid progress is taking place with techniques such as precession electron diffraction and diffractive imaging. Precession electron diffraction is rapidly maturing as a tool for fingerprinting materials, and is starting to see applications not just in hard materials but also in soft materials and pharmaceuticals. The number of users of electron microscopy and diffraction, always large in the US and Europe, continues to increase as developing countries such as India purchase new instruments to improve their technological base.
At the same time as the field is moving rapidly forward, there are potential problems which are also opportunities. The price of electron microscopes has escalated rapidly over the last few years, as has the annual maintenance contracts which determine the costs to use these instruments. In many cases the best instruments are no longer at individual universities but have become part of larger central facilities or national labs. The instruments are also become easier to use, which means that many students who come into electron diffraction not longer have the extensive training in the underlying physics of diffraction, crystallography and imaging that was standard a few years ago. Frequently there is a drive to increase the number of inexperienced users and have a higher throughput of samples in order to cover the escalating usage costs. Parallel with this in many cases the instruments are used only to obtain qualitative information, not as precise measuring tools.
The aim of the CEC is:
Gjonnes medal winners 2014
The commision on electron crystallography would like to extend a hearty congratulations to
Prof. John Steeds (Bristol University, UK) and Prof. Michiyoshi Tanaka (Emeritus, Tohoku University, Japan) on winning the 2014 Gjonnes medal.
Both will be giving keynote lectures at the IUCr meeting in Montreal.
Prof. Michiyoshi Tanaka on saturday the 9th of August : The large angle technique and lattice defect identifications.
Prof. John Steeds on Tuesday the 12th of August: A convergence of beauty and utility