2014: The International Year of Crystallography


To acknowledge a century of crucial contributions to science, UNESCO has declared 2014 the International Year of Crystallography, and the International Union of Crystallography is leading the world in a celebration of the remarkable scientific discoveries that have been enabled by crystallography. This year marks the centennial of the Nobel Prize awarded to Max von Laue for his pioneering theoretical and experimental work in establishing the field of crystallography, the first of many Nobel Prizes to be awarded for work involving crystallographic techniques. A celebration of crystallography would not be complete without also mentioning the father-and-son team of William Henry Bragg and William Lawrence Bragg, who performed the first ever crystal structure determination and discovered the famed “Bragg’s Law,” for which they shared the 1915 Nobel Prize. Since those first diffraction peaks from NaCl were observed over 100 years ago, crystallography has completely revolutionized a remarkable number of scientific disciplines, including solid-state physics, chemistry, and biology. Indeed, perhaps the most famous discovery ever made using crystallography was the double-helix structure of DNA, discovered by Francis Crick, James Watson, and Rosalind Franklin. Crystallography continues to be vitally relevant at the frontiers of science today, and here in the Billinge group, we are honored to be a part of the legacy established by those first daring x-ray scatterers. As the veteran techniques of crystallography are supplemented by exciting developments such as the PDF work done in our group, we are excited to see where the next 100 years take us!