Crystallography

The International Union Crystallography (IUCr) and UNESCO has jointly organized 2014 as International year of crystallography. With this they aim to promote education and public awareness through a variety of activities and to broaden the base of crystallography, in order to provide developing countries with more expertise in this field which can be made use in their scientific and industrial development.

Crystals are all around us. Most of the time, we do not even realize all the crystals we see in our day to day life. Now, let’s see they are. Crystals are solids that are formed by a regular repeated pattern of molecules connecting together. Throughout history, people have been fascinated by the beauty and mystery of crystals. Sugar grains, ice, salt, gemstones, graphite etc are crystals that we see around us. Diamond is one of the simplest and most symmetrical of crystal structures.

CRYSTALLOGRAPHY is the science that examines the arrangement of atoms and solids in a crystal. Crystallography supports the development of all new materials, from every day products like computer memory cards to flat television screens, cars, aeroplane components and liquid crystal display devices. In fact crystallography has many applications. It touches our everyday life and forms the backbone of industries including agro-food, aeronautic, automobile, beauty care, computer, electro-mechanical, pharmaceutical, and mining industries.

In the 20th century it was realized that X-rays could be used to see the structure of matter. This marks the dawn of modern crystallography. X-ray crystallography has been the main method of determining the atomic structure of minerals and metals since 1920.Everything we know about rocks, geological formations, the history of earth, knowledge of meteorites comes is based on crystallography. Drug design depends on the use of crystallography. Knowing the precise shape of the protein allows the scientists to design drug compounds that can stick in to the active sites on the protein and thereby disable the harmful activity. Crystallography is essential at the stage of drug manufacture. It is used in the quality control of the processed drug during mass production, to ensure that strict health and safety guidelines are met.