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Bruker OpenLab Algeria, May 9-14, 2015

[OpenLabs logo]

The IUCr-UNESCO OpenLab Algeria, which was held at the Université frères Mentouri in Constantine from May 9-14, 2015, and organized in partnership with Bruker, was a great success. A total of 80 students (40 from Constantine and 40 from other Algerian as well as Tunisian and Moroccan universities) attended the OpenLab, which also included several hands-on tutorials and the exhibition 'Voyage dans le Cristal'.

The programme book and photo gallery can be seen at

This school was organized in the format of an OpenLab, within the scope of the International Year of Crystallography celebrations. It was sponsored by the IUCr and actively supported by the Bruker AXS company and the Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre (CCDC).

[Algeria participants]

The school was open to all researchers from the Maghreb and the rest of Africa, and most particularly to PhD students who are regular users of crystallography in their research work, and to young crystallography professors.

Due to space limitations, the workshops were restricted to 80 registered PhD students. The geographic student distribution was the following: 12 foreigners from Africa (including citizens of the Maghreb), 28 Algerians not from Constantine and 40 from the Université de Constantine.

Lectures and seminars were open to the general public, in particular to MSc students of all areas of chemistry (60 students). Raising awareness about crystallography among the students in their final year in the Master programme, and refreshing the crystallography knowledge of all the staff involved in using crystallographic methods as their main analytical tool, were some of the main objectives of the school. Many people who had already some knowledge in crystallography participated, and we spared no effort to spread knowledge of this science around, beyond our fellow crystallographers.

Teaching and training were carried out by local specialists and invited distinguished crystallographers. Overall, 10 foreign invited guests, 10 invited Algerians (all of whom are crystallography professors and members of the Algerian Association of Crystallography) and 20 crystallographers from CHEMS, our research unit, combined their efforts to provide the required teaching and training.

The first day started with the opening ceremony and presentations for the dissemination of the science of crystallography to the general public, including a description of the history of crystallography, its evolution and its importance in research and in industry. One of the highlights of the first day was the award ceremony for the winners of the crystal-growing competition for middle-school and high-school students.

The programme of the other days consisted of seminars, lectures and workshops. Eminent scientists presented the cutting edge developments in crystallography.

Shows, on display in a hall of the building reserved for the OpenLab, were accessible at all times during the week. The following topics were presented:

  • a voyage back in time to show the equipment and ancillary devices used by crystallographers throughout the history of this science;
  • a voyage in the crystal in order to make the onlooker discover the multiple facets of crystals, not just literally, but also their beauty, their many marvels, in science for their contribution to the understanding of the structure of matter and of life itself, and an incredible material for its numerous application in modern life;
  • a display of works, related to the structure of crystals, made by high-school and middle-school students in the scope of a design competition (various objects: ornaments, drawings, models, designs, …).

The activities undertaken by our research unit CHEMS in order to promote the science of crystallography were not limited to the one-week school described above. Three other events were organized, solely in 2014: (1) With the support of the Université de Constantine, we celebrated the International Year of Crystallography by organizing open houses. Inauguration took place in March 2014, when the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research came to do the unveiling. (2) Open houses also took place in April 2014, (3) followed in combination by the Student Day on May 19, 2014. On this occasion, we were honoured by the presence of the General Secretary of the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, together with the General Director of Scientific Research and Technological Development.

Hocine Merazig


Currently, crystallography has become almost a 'press-button' science because of the rapid progress of computer technology. Nowadays, crystallographers, and especially young crystallographers, are increasingly trapped by the technology which hides behind the science of crystallography. Yet this delicate science requires particular attention to detail in order to obtain good research results. For this reason, it is essential to attend schools like this, to strengthen basic knowledge before setting to work on computer processing, and to go further in research.

Andriamanantena Laza, participant