Modern crystallography deals with the spatial arrangement of atoms (structure) in condensed matter, with changes in the structural structure and with the physical, chemical, material and geoscientific and technical properties of solids.

In Germany, crystallography developed from two roots: very early in mineralogy and, since ca.1850, physics. In the field of mineralogy, special chairs for mineralogy and crystallography were created as early as the 18th century, which led to a heyday of the subject in the 19th and early 20th centuries. One example is the foundation of the journal for mineralogy and crystallography by P. Groth in 1877, which soon became the leading international organization of the region. Since the diffraction of X-rays on crystals was discovered in 1912, important impulses from physics have been added, which are linked to the names M. von Laue and P.P. Ewald, among others. Through W.H. and W.L. Bragg, crystallography developed into a modern discipline centred around the crystal structure.

In the former FRG, crystallographic teaching and research activities were intensified and expanded after 1960, mainly inspired by a memorandum of the DFG. Today there are about 30 independent institutes or working groups for crystallography, most of which have their origins in mineralogy. At the same time, crystallographic research groups developed in chemistry, physics, biology and materials science. In addition to universities, Max Planck Institutes and large-scale research facilities have established departments that make use of crystallographic methods.

In the former GDR, crystallographically oriented research was carried out in physical, chemical and material science institutes of universities and the Academy of Sciences. The diploma in crystallography was awarded at two universities, in Berlin at the Faculty of Physics and Leipzig, at the Faculty of Chemistry, The following areas of crystallography have developed particularly strongly in Germany:

  • Mathematical Crystallography (Symmetry)
  • Inorganic structural chemistry
  • Mineralogical Crystallography
  • Biological Crystallography
  • Crystal growing
  • Crystal physics
  • Diffraction physics and X-ray optics

Development of new eperimental techniques for single crystals and polycrystalline systems