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High pressure crystallography

Erice, June, 2003

[High pressure logo]

The 34th crystallographic Course at Erice ( June 4-15, 2003), a NATO ASI and a EuroSummerSchool, was devoted to high-pressure crystallography. This topic was selected for the first time in the history of the Erice meetings. The Course directors – A. Katrusiak (Adam Mickiewicz U., Poznan, Poland) and P. F. McMillan (U. College, London, UK), and the team guided by P. Spadon (Padova U., Italy) and L. Riva di Sanseverino (Bologna U., Italy) made the course an unforgettable event for all participants – students and lecturers, the 'Erice veterans' and for those, who were in Erice for the first time.

The idea of the course originated from the High-Pressure Commission of the IUCr in 1998. The main objective was to provide crystallographers worldwide with a basic training, which would enable them to apply the 'neglected' thermodynamic parameter of pressure more commonly in their research.

[High pressure group] Group photograph of the award ceremony: on the top: P. F. McMillan and A. Katrusiak directors of the course; first row from left to right: L. Riva di Sanseverino, A. Budzianowski, S. Filipek, E. Boldyreva, T. Hirata, P. Spadon, Mrs. Paz-Pasternak, R. Fourme, M. Paz-Pasternak, S. Kazantsev, A. Dewaele, G. D. Gatta.

The program was 'densely packed' and covered all possible branches of high-pressure research: solid state chemistry at high pressure (P. McMillan, E. Boldyreva), the high-pressure crystallography of gas hydrates (W. Kuhs) and amorphous ices (L. Pusztai), equations of state, thermophysical properties of solids under pressure, phase transitions (W. Holzapfel, R. Angel), computational techniques (B. Winkler, J. Tse, M. Parrinello, A. Oganov), experimental techniques (M. Paz-Pasternak, R. Angel, M. McMahon, O. Shimomura, D. Haeusermann, M. Mezouar, L. Dubrovinsky, J.-P. Itie), high-pressure studies of molecular crystals (J. Loveday, A. Katrusiak, E. Boldyreva, M. Szafranski), soft materials and biomaterials under pressure (S. Gruner, R. Fourme), perovskites (F. Rodriguez), cuprate superconductors (A. Gauzzi), metal and metal alloys (M. McMahon, V. Degtyareva), magnetic properties (M. Paz-Pasternak, I. Goncharenko), quasicrystals (G. Krauss), superhard phases (V. Solozhenko), analysis of strain by convergent beam electron diffraction (A. Armigliato), structure maps for constrained structures (J. Parise), 'stuffed' framework structures (N. Ross), solid-state transformations under high dynamic pressures (S. Batsanov), modulated structures (V. Petricek). High-level lectures, numerous tutorials, 10 workshops (some of them repeated), two poster sessions, formal and informal discussions – all this has contributed to a real success of the course not less, than traditional Erice excursions, Marsala, singing and dancing…

The meeting was sponsored and generously financed by the European Commission, DG XII, TMR Programme, EuroSummerSchools, Bruxelles; by the IUCr, Chester; by NATO Scientific Affairs Div., Bruxelles. Support under the form of Awards of Liberal Contributions have been received from B & B HT Moscow, RU; Bruker-Nonius, BV, Delft, NL; D'Anvils Ltd. Kfar-Saba, IL, and Almax Industries, Diksmuide, B. A representative of the NATO Science Commission, J. Howard, gave an introduction into the various NATO activities supporting research worldwide. The representatives of the B & B HT Moscow, RU, and of the D'Anvils Ltd. Kfar-Saba, IL donated valuable prizes – diamond anvils and a diamond anvil cell – to the selected posters. The 'Erice Vaciago Award' for the most active young participant in the lecture hall went to Sergei Kazantsev (Moscow, RU).

For some of the participants the course will be surely a beginning of the research in a new fascinating field, for others a beginning of new professional contacts, that can well develop into personal friendships (as it often happens to Erice contacts). It is also very important to mention, that this course was the first course in the history of the whole Majorana Centre activity, that was accessible to everyone worldwide via internet 'in real time' (the lecturers even received questions and comments not only from the Erice audience, but also from other countries 'on line'). The course is still accessible to anyone interested in it. The presentations and the videos of the lectures can be downloaded from the site or, more directly, from If necessary, J. Irwin ( will surely help with advice and assistance. The course proceedings are being published by Kluwer as the book entitled 'High-Pressure Crystallography', edited by the Course Directors. The course was incredibly open for those, who were unable to attend due to some reason (lack of money, physical disability, limitations on the number of participants in Erice, etc.). The lecturers sincerely tried to bring their knowledge and experience to as large and diverse audience, as possible. One could only wish that this becomes a new tradition of Erice (and not only) courses.

Elena Boldyreva