Diamond celebrates International Year of Crystallography

A model of the crystal structure of EV71 virus, solved at Diamond using crystallography
A model of the crystal structure of EV71 virus, solved at Diamond using crystallography
 
The UK’s national synchrotron, Diamond Light Source, which produces a light 10 billion times brighter than the sun for cutting-edge scientific research, has announced a year of activity to showcase 100 years of crystallography, a technique which is fundamental to the thousands of research experiments carried out at Diamond every year. The programme of events has been organised to celebrate UNESCO’s 2014 International Year of Crystallography and to promote public understanding of this critical scientific field.
A diffraction pattern of CRF1
A diffraction pattern of CRF1

At Diamond, crystallography is a key scientific technique which uses the unique pattern of diffraction made when intense X-rays pass through a crystallised sample to determine its atomic structure. The ‘beamlines’ at Diamond are used by over 3,000 scientists ever year to literally shine a light on a broad range of experiments from DNA, to research into HIV and cancer treatments.   Crystallography has fostered countless scientific advances since its discovery and continues to be used by scientists at Diamond in pioneering research into new forms of energy, archaeology and pioneering drug design.

The United Nations International Year of Crystallography in 2014 follows the centenary of the Nobel Prize for Physics being awarded to British father and son scientific partnership William Henry Bragg and William Lawrence Bragg, the founding fathers of crystallography. 

Professor Andrew Harrison, CEO of Diamond Light Source, comments:  “It is extremely encouraging that UNESCO has chosen to designate 2014 as the International Year of Crystallography. We intend to embrace every opportunity to communicate the amazing science that this technique has enabled researchers to carry out over the last century. Crystallography revolutionised science 100 years ago and when synchrotrons started to be built thirty years ago, they revolutionised crystallography.  The paths of crystallography and synchrotrons are intertwined and we hope this year of recognition will allow us to share the wonder of what crystallography has made possible globally, along with our aspirations for future achievements based on the new technology we are bringing to Diamond.”

Abhay Kotecha, STRUBI Oxford, on one of Diamond's crystallography beamlines, I24
Abhay Kotecha, STRUBI Oxford, on one of Diamond's crystallography beamlines, I24
The programme of events will allow the public to participate in a range of engaging activities for all age groups from exhibitions and competitions, to hands on events, aimed at helping the public to find out more about this ground-breaking technique. Crystallography is the hidden science behind so many aspects of our lives and it has allowed scientists to achieve success in every area. Examples include the precise shape of human proteins that can lead on to better drugs to combat depression and anxiety, breakthroughs in harnessing the materials of the future, understanding the wave formation of electrons and designing life-saving vaccines. The ‘Diamond in Action’ calendar of events aims to reveal the details of the pioneering work done inside the facility’s giant, donut-shaped building in Oxfordshire.

 

Calendar of ‘Diamond in Action’ Events – January-March 2014
January:
 
“Crystals: Beauty, Science, Structure” an exhibition
At The Museum of the History of Science, Broad Street, Oxford
Open until March 30th 2014
 
“Diamond in Action: Science Stories from the Synchrotron” an exhibition
At Abingdon County Hall Museum, Market Pl, Abingdon, Oxfordshire
Open from January 13th until April 27th 2014
 
 
February:
·         February:
Oxfordshire Primary Schools competing in the “Epic Crystals” competition will start growing their crystals.  The partners who have organised this competition are STFC, Diamond, Oxfordshire Science Festival, the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford’s Museum of Natural History and the British Crystallography Association (BCA).
 
·         Saturday 8th February
Family-friendly “Diamond Day”
At The Museum of the History of Science, Broad Street, Oxford
 
·         Thursday  20th February, 10:30am-3:00pm
“Cracking Crystals”
At Abingdon County Hall Museum, Market Pl, Abingdon
These exciting family workshops run by Diamond have activities for young scientists of all ages and their parents or grandparents. Please book your session in advance as places are limited. 
 
March:
·         Saturday 8th March
 “Epic Crystals” unveiled in the window of Waterstones
Waterstones, Broad St, Oxford
One crystal display from every school taking part will be exhibited for the duration of the Oxfordshire Science Festival.
 
·         Saturday 8th March
Diamond stand with crystal display at Science in Your World (part of Oxfordshire Science Festival, 8th-23rd March)
 
·         Saturday 15th March
Crystals Day at the Museum of the History of Science, Broad Street, Oxford
A day of talks, activities, demonstrations and trails for all the family.  Diamond will be part of this fun filled day!
 
·         Saturday 22nd March
“Diamond Dazzles”,  (part of ATOM! which is a highlight event of the Oxfordshire Science Festival)
At Abingdon County Hall Museum, Market Pl, Abingdon, Oxfordshire
Diamond hands-on all day drop-in activity for young children and parents.
 
·         Saturday 29th March
Visit the synchrotron itself in Harwell near Didcot. The day will offer stalls, activities and a tour of Diamond’s inner workings. Booking for open days opens 6-8 weeks in advance of the event