Crystals have intrigued us for millennia, with their beauty and symmetry. Gemstones are decorative and in certain  cultures imbued with spiritual powers.

Crystals are also important to humans for of  their mechanical, chemical and physical properties. Before 1900, scientists and engineers knew minerals  had crystalline forms and how these forms related to ores that were sources of  metals for tools and armor and other valuable compounds, buy not about the atom  arrangement within crystals.

In 1912, physicists showed that when crystals are exposed to  a beam of X-rays, they scatter (diffract) the radiation in systematic ways that  provide information about the arrangement of the atoms inside the crystals.

Over the past 100 years, crystallography has developed into  the pre-eminent experimental method for determining the three-dimensional  structures of molecules and materials. Nearly all of the pictures of molecules seen in textbooks, websites or  the popular media have been obtained using crystallographic techniques.

While the past accomplishments in crystallography are  impressive and worth celebrating, future developments in a broad range of  practical fields, including nanomaterials, energy research and pharmaceuticals,  will also depend on the wealth of information available from crystallographic  studies.

We invite you to make use of the links at this website to  learn more about crystallography and the wonderful structures it allows us to  see!




Crystal diffracting light


data-imageDiffraction image.