23rd Conference on Applied Crystallography

The 23rd Conference on Applied Crystallography 2015 is a traditional conference, which is held every two to three years somewhere in the Polish Carpathians. This time, it was in Krynica, organized by the University of Silesia. I had the opportunity and pleasure to attend this conference and in the following blog entry, I want to share the some of the scientific experiences from there with all of you, who had to stay at home. There is also another blog entry, which deals with the surroundings and the social program of the conference.

The first morning started out with a talk by Dan Shechtman, winner of the chemistry Nobel Prize in 2011, about his discoveries in quasi crystals. It was a very playful talk about the time, when he made the discovery and how difficult it was to convince the scientific community of his discoveries.
The rest of the morning session was dedicated to quasicrystals and various applications of TEM and XRD methods in various fields of material sciences.

The whole afternoon session was dedicated to young scientist, giving them the opportunity to present their research topics to the community. The topics of the talks ranged from nano materials to turbine blades, in other words, it was quite diverse. I still find it very interesting to see, how TEM and XRD can be tweaked to all kind of applications. During this session, the young scientists used them to gain information on, for instance, the surface roughness or internal strain of turbine blades. There was also a committee to award the best speaker of the young scientist session and the award went to Anna Tondos on her talk about turbine blades (see her interview for more details). In the evening was the first poster session. I found it quite interesting to see all these scientists mingling and having in-depth discussions about research.

The second day was all about electron diffraction. Since my understanding of ED is very limited, this was a great opportunity for me to catch up with the current state-of-the-art technology and methods. In the first morning session, several high-profile scientists told about their current advancements on the methods, like solving structures from nano particles. The second morning session dealt with the successful application of modern ED methods on hard-to-solve problems. My personal highlights of this session were a talk about structure determination in a ternary Th-Ni-Al system and a talk about how electron backscattering diffraction can be used for characterize grain boundaries and their interconnection.

The majority of third day was dedicated to software and future techniques. The first talk of the day was by Vaclav Petříček, one of the programmers of JANA2006, on the refinement of magnetic structures using, as you might have guessed, JANA2006. Although magnetic structures are way off my own research interests, I found his talk both interesting and helpful. As a newbie user of JANA2006, I got several insights into the program, which were more than helpful, alongside some personal chats with Vaclav Petříček later on.
The first afternoon session belonged to representatives of commercial companies who presented new techniques and results, which can be obtained with their newly developed instruments. With several talks about magnetic structures and their properties ended the last and very “attracting” (I’m sorry for the lame pun) oral session of the day. The oral session was followed by the second and also last poster session.

Powder diffraction was the prominent topic of the last day. There was a broad range of topics in this session, ranging from large-scale research at ESRF down to nano-crystallography in the labs at home. In my personal opinion, powder diffraction always had the widest range of application. This opinion was reflected by the various topics in this session. There were talks about mechanical stress, phase transitions, high-temperature crystallography and disorder. Due to this wide array, it turned out to be quite an interesting session.
The End of this session was also the end of the conference itself. The chairwoman of the organizing committee, Danuta Stróż, spoke the last words of the conference. She thanked all the speakers, attendees and organizers for the smooth course of the conference.

I would also like to take the opportunity to thank Danuta Stróż and the organizing committee for a wonderful experience and to all participants for their excellent talks. I experienced this conference as cordially get-together of scientists and I profited a lot, both professional and personal, from the talks and the people I met there.