The Fourth European Powder Diffraction Conference was held July 10-14, 1995 at Chester College in Chester, England, an attractive city which dates back to Roman times (and has an abundance of fine pubs, a fact which did not go unnoticed by many participants!). Highlights of the meeting included presentation of the ICCD Distinguished Fellow Award to Professor P. M. de Wolf for lifetime achievements in powder diffraction and the Philips EPDIC Young Scientist Award to L. Petras (Vienna) for his development of a high-temperature X-ray furnace with precise temperature control.
Thirteen invited lectures covered three broad themes of structure solution and refinement, dynamic studies, and industrial applications. A total of 57 talks drawn from 180 contributed papers covered more specialized categories; non-ambient studies, microstructure and quantitative analysis, texture and preferred orientation, magnetic materials, residual stress, disordered systems and microporous materials.
A survey of the contributed papers revealed a strong emphasis on structural characterization, with structure solution or refinement accounting for about 35%, and "non-ambient" studies 20% (phase transitions and equilibria, reaction kinetics, dynamic and high pressure studies). Roughly 15% dealt with microstructure and related topics (line-shape analysis, texture and preferred orientation, residual stress), 10% with thin films, 10% with instrumentation, 5% with quantitative analysis and 5% with data analysis. Another interesting statistic was the relatively large proportion of papers in which synchrotron or neutron diffraction techniques were used; about 17% and 10% respectively, indicative of a steady growth in the user community at major facilities of these types.
'Non-ambient' structural studies are becoming increasingly sophisticated, examples being the characterization of phase transitions involving extremely subtle changes in symmetry, and precise structure determination at high pressure in diamond-anvil cells. The growing importance of residual stress measurement is reflected in the steady growth of dedicated instruments at many neutron centers throughout the world. There has also been considerable progress in the application of grazing-incidence techniques to the study of thin films, which will accelerate with the ready availability of parallel-beam optics for laboratory diffractometers. The conference dinner was held at Tatton Park,where part of the very successful television series "Brideshead Revisited" was filmed. Dining in the great hall (watched over by a huge collecrion of animal trophies shot in Africa by one of the family ancestors) provided a memorable finale.
The meeting was organized by the Daresbury Lab and a local committee chaired by B. Cernik. Sponsorship was provided by the IUCr, the British Crystallographic Association, and industrial companies, including Philips, Siemens, and Seifert.Dave Cox