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High Pressure 1999

This year marked the end of the first triennium of the Commission on High Pressure. The Commission’s principal activity is to organize symposia and workshops to keep the high-pressure crystallography community abreast of a rapidly developing field, and build links to other related areas of high-pressure science. A large effort was put into organising the Commission's six microsymposia and an Open Commission Meeting (OCM) at the Glasgow Congress. Commission member A Katrusiak served on the Congress Programme Committee. All other members and consultants acted as microsymposia Chairs or Co-chairs, and two members (W.F. Kuhs and D. Häusermann) presented keynote lectures.

[Commission members] Speakers in the Structures and Techniques at Extreme Pressures and Temperatures session in Glasgow. (left to right) Dave Mao, Guillaume Fiquet, Anil Singh, David Price, Russell Hemley, Raymond Jeanloz, Guido Chiarotti (at the back).
The microsymposia covered high-pressure structures and phase transitions, structures and techniques at extreme pressures and temperatures, physical properties and novel materials under high pressure, high-pressure data acquisition and analysis, high-pressure studies of biological and other soft matter, and new frontiers in high-pressure crystallography. These sessions attracted audiences ranging from 65 for the most specialised to 150 for the wide appeal of geoplanetary science at extremes of pressure and temperature. The OCM focused on laboratory-based high-pressure crystallography, including nondiffraction techniques, and the keynote lectures provided overviews of research into water structure in ices and clathrates, the latest developments in crystallography in extreme conditions of pressure and temperature, and what can now be achieved by ab initio molecular dynamics. In all, there were 45 invited lectures, and 65 poster presentations. It added up to a rich and stimulating programme - effectively a substantial international workshop embedded in the Congress programme - that attracted considerable numbers of new participants from the wider field of high-pressure science. A similar format had proved successful at the Seattle Congress, and some 30% more participants (over 100) were attracted to Glasgow. Some of this increase came from the inclusion of a session on biological and other soft matter - an important and successful development of the range of the Commission's activities over the past three years. Short poster orals - three-minute summaries of the highlights of related presentations in the poster sessions - were introduced to link the posters to the oral sessions and general discussion. This innovation was welcomed by the participants. To recognise the contribution of the posters to the overall programme, the Commission funded prizes for the best. First Prize went to Dominique Gourdain (Paris VI U., France) for her high P-T studies of KNbO3, and Second Prizes went to Maki Okube (Osaka U., Japan) for her novel EXAFS determinations of anharmonic effective pair potentials, and to Olga Degtyareva (Paderborn U., Germany) for her studies of binary lanthanide alloy’s. The Commission is concerned to encourage and assist the participation of young scientists in its meetings, 30-40 were in attendance and two were given funding assistance by the Commission. The success of the programme owed much to members and consultants of the Commission, and other session Chairs and Co-chairs (M. I. McMahon, M. Kunz and R. Winter). Detailed reports on all the microsymposia and the OCM have been posted on the Commission's website.

Among the items of Commission business discussed were the report on the 1998 workshop at Argonne, USA, and its final accounts; future workshops and schools; links to the ICDD (C T Prewitt in attendance); membership of the Commission for 1999- 2002; a planned directory of high-pressure crystallographers; and further development of the Commission's web site to include a comprehensive listing of future high-pressure meetings, and information on central facilities for high-pressure crystallography and how to access them. The assistance of J S Loveday with the directory and the web site listings was gratefully noted. Following the recommendation of the Executive Committee (EC), all the members and consultants for 1996-1999 were elected by the General Assembly to serve for the next triennium. The EC also agreed to the Commission’s recommendation that M Kunz (ETH, Zurich) and J Tse (NRC, Ottawa) be appointed as consultants for the next triennium.

It was agreed that the Commission would organise workshops at Spring-8, Japan, in 2000, with member O Shimomura as the local organiser, and at Saclay, France, in 2001, with member I N Goncharenko as the local organiser. The Commission will seek for the Jerusalem Congress in 2002 a programme and format broadly similar to Glasgow. Commission member A Katrusiak reported on plans now well in place for a School on High Pressure Crystallography to be held at Erice, Italy, from May 27 to June 8 in 2003.

The programme and planning at the Glasgow Congress made significant steps in the Commission's development, and launched a second triennium with work to be done but much to look forward to.

R.J. Nelmes, Chairman