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PANalytical OpenLab Ghana, June 9–12, 2014

[OpenLabs logo]
[Ghana 1]
[Ghana 2]
[Ghana attendees]

The IUCr-UNESCO OpenLab Ghana, organized within the frame of the IYCr2014 in partnership with PANalytical B.V. and F. Malawi Engineering Co. Ltd, was held on June 9–12 at the Centre for African Wetlands on the campus of the U. of Ghana in Accra.

The event consisted of four days of training in X-ray powder diffraction, comprising presentations, hands-on sessions on software and practical sessions on the Empyrean, which was recently installed at the U. of Ghana in the Dept. of Physics.

Thirty powder diffraction enthusiasts were selected and attended the event celebrating IYCr2014, including PhD students, young and senior researchers and a few professionals from industry. Most of the attendees were from Ghana, though other West African countries were represented: Nigeria, Senegal, Liberia and Burkina Faso.

The OpenLab logistics and organization was carried out jointly by PANalytical B.V., F. Malawi Engineering Co. Ltd and the Dept. of Physics at the U. of Ghana in Accra.

The scientific lectures delivered by Gilberto Artioli (U. di Padova, Italy) included the nature of X-rays and their interaction with matter, basics of crystallography and diffraction, the experimental geometries for powder diffraction, data interpretation (including phase identification, available software and databases) and an introduction to full profile refinement. A few advanced applications were also shown, with a focus on materials science and mineral resources.

Marco Sommariva (PANalytical) covered most of the applied aspects such as the details of instrumental components, calibration and practical data collection. Quantitative phase analysis was also introduced.

Extensive hands-on laboratories involving data collection on the available instrumentation and demonstrations on data treatment and analysis were followed with extreme interest. All the attendees showed a real eagerness to learn and the participation was very interactive. Highly positive feedback was expressed during the whole event about both the lectures and the practical sessions.

Both lecturers promised to remain in contact to respond to further questions as a follow up to the course, although the delicate issue of freely available software and databases in developing countries is a general issue to be faced at the international level. A special effort was made during the OpenLab to present and operate freely available software, such as GSAS, and open-access databases, such as COD, in the attempt to direct the attendees towards independent crystallographic activities.

Overall it has been a highly rewarding experience, both for the lecturers and for the audience. The general impression is that the spirit and aims of IYCr2014 were perfectly targeted.

Gilberto Artioli, OpenLab Lecturer