Bookmark and Share

Impact and influence of crystallography across the sciences


The first diffraction experiment on a single crystal of copper sulfate by Max von Laue in 1912 and subsequent interpretation by Lawrence Bragg gave birth to the field of crystallography.

How does one assess the impact of a discipline such as crystallography, particularly when it spans the sciences and requires a cultural change in the way of thinking and looking at a problem?

Crystallography, whether using electrons, neutrons or X-rays, has transformed the way we look at a problem and the level at which we wish to glean the composition of a material and its internal arrangement. Whether it is something as simple as table salt or as complex as the ribosome, crystallography has provided an insight that no other approach could demonstrate.

One hundred years after the first Nobel Prize in crystallography to Laue in 1914, crystallography still features in current awards. The 2013, 2012 and 2011 Chemistry awards went to scientists who continue to demonstrate the multidisciplinary outreach of crystallography. We congratulate all these winners and indeed the 2016 Nobel Prize winners in Physiology and Medicine (Yoshinori Ohsumi, for his discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy) and Chemistry (Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L. Feringa for the design and synthesis of molecular machines). We are pleased to note that Ohsumi, Stoddart and Feringa have published some 40 papers in IUCr Journals ( during the period 1986-2014 (

To acknowledge the impact and influence crystallography still continues to play, the IUCr launched a cross discipline open-access journal IUCrJ ( in 2014. The journal received its first impact factor of 5.3 in 2016. This impact factor results from our authors having the trust and confidence to submit some of their best work to the journal.

Along with many existing communities already publishing in IUCrJ, we wish to encourage the cryo-EM community to make IUCrJ their natural home. The importance of cryo-EM for structural science has been obvious to the IUCr for many years ( and will be an important feature of the next IUCr Congress in Hyderabad (, where as well as the IUCr Gjønnes Medal keynote lectures [from Richard Henderson ( and Nigel Unwin], there will be an additional keynote [from Sriram Subramanian (] and three microsymposia each with six talks. Like the Congress, IUCrJ aims to take the lead in reporting important advances in cryo-EM methods as well as significant science results from the application of cryo-EM.

We encourage you all to consider IUCrJ alongside other notable journals such as PNAS, JACS, Nature Communications and Nature Materials. The journal provides readers with an opportunity to see some excellent science in the chemical, materials and biological fields while keeping up with significant advances in instrumentation, methods and approaches. We aim to continue this unique combination of structural sciences in one place, while welcoming new areas like the chemistry and materials science pertaining to two-dimensional crystals such as graphene.

Samar Hasnain, Editor-in-Chief, IUCr Journals

This is an extract from an Editorial published in IUCrJ (