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Aperiodic Crystals for Beginners

IUCr Satellite Meeting, Alcala de Henarez, Spain, August 2011

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Aperiodic crystals (incommensurately modulated phases, incommensurate composite crystals and quasicrystals) are found in many different systems such as minerals, the elements at high pressures, various inorganic compounds, molecular crystals and intermetallics. Their identification is nowadays easier thanks to the steady improvement of instrumentation, modern X-ray and neutron detectors and advanced transmission electron microscopes. The knowledge of the atomic structure of aperiodic crystals is a key point for the understanding of their chemical and physical properties. However, this still remains difficult for the non-specialist. The two-day satellite meeting offered a basic and tutorial introduction to structural analysis of aperiodic crystals. The general concepts of high-dimensional crystallography were introduced step by step and applied to a few organic and inorganic materials. Lectures were given by leaders in the field of aperiodic crystals. The program of the school can be found on the website at

Twenty participants, among them 6 young scientists, attended the meeting, which was very fruitful. Lectures were complemented by tutorials where participants practised some of the ideas that had been taught. The feedback from participants was very positive, the school being a very good introduction to this rather difficult field. The broad and interdisciplinary scientific background of the participants (materials science, chemistry, physics …) was a very important key to the success of the school.

The second international school on aperiodic crystals will be organized in spring 2013, following the one organized in 2010 in Carqueiranne France. This five-day school will offer a detailed introduction to this fascinating field.

Marc de Boissieu