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The BCA in Cardiff

Macromolecules Abound

The program of the Biological Structures Group at the Cardiff British Crystallographic Association (BCA) Meeting (March 1995) featured techniques and applications and drew its largest attendance ever (140 participants). Highlights of techniques sessions included a survey of new trends in protein crystallization, cryocrystallography, and the efficient use of very small crystals. The results of a plethora of new structures emanating from UK groups included a dazzling array of illustrations of the light harvesting complexes of purple bacteria (A. Freer, Glasgow), the fascinating "doughnut" struccure of Trp Attenuation Protein (F. Antson, York), and the remarkable "β helix" formed in pertactin (P. Emsley, Glasgow). A bottle of champagne for the best oral presentation went to J. Maclean (Glasgow), and the best poster prize (cash prize and Blue John Trophy) went to E. Garman (Oxford) for her tactile and woolly presentation on how to freeze your protein crystals.

Powders Progress

The topics of the BCA Industrial Group were Novel Materials and Application and Rietveld Analysis in Industry. In his plenary lecture, R. Jenkins (ICDD) noted that more progress has been made in powder diffraction in the last five years than the previous fifty in terms of new materials and techniques, with 70,000 compounds on file and additions running at 2000 per annum (1500 inorganic and 500 organic). Other talks covered sub-nanometre films (T . Ryan. Phillips), analysis of irregular objects, including brass camels and yoghurt pots (F. Buragzy, Siemens), efficiency of jet engines (C. Small, Rolls Royce), refinement of complex disordered materials (P. Attfield), a real-time video demonstration of the DBWS program (D. Bates, British Gas), and the pitfalls of polymer modeling (S. Andrews, ICI).

Getting Physical

Also at the Cardiff meeting, a joint session on "Growth and Physical Properties of Crystals" featured talks on generation and characterization of twinning in crystals (H. Klapper, U. Bonn), electric field-induced structural changes in nonlinear optical crystals (C. Cousins, U. Exeter), and periodic domain-inversion examined with high-resolution X-ray diffraction and X-ray topography (Z.-Hu, Oxford). The Philips Physical Crystallography Award was presented to Werner Kaminsky of the Clarendon Lab in recognition of his elegant experiments in the field of crystal optics, particularly his measurements of the gyration, e1ectrogyration and magneto-optic tensors and variation of tensor coefficients in the vicinity of structural phase transitions. Dr Kaminsky's award lecture included a remarkably clear demonstration of the change in the optical characteristics of a ferromagnetic crystal with and without a magnetic field.

Drawn from reports in the July BCA Newsletter by Leo Brady, Bruce Fox, and Pam Jones