IUCr 1997 Report - Commission on Structural Chemistry

As in 1995, the Commission was involved in a second major workshop called Indaba II held in the Kruger National Park, South Africa, August 1997. The general title was Intermolecular Interactions, and the meeting was organized again by J. C. A. Boeyens and his co-workers. Proceedings are being edited, as for Indaba I, by W. Gans and published by Plenum. The meeting was divided into three general areas: practical aspects of inter- and intramolecular interactions; new developments in hardware and software; and theoretical aspects of intermolecular interactions. There were 31 full lectures and more than 25 poster presentations. The latter were presented mainly by local young scientists. The meeting was excellently organized and the location with its natural attractions well chosen.

A workshop entitled Predictability of Crystal Structures on Inorganic Solids organized by the German Crystallographic Society (DGK) together with the German Chemical Society (GDCh) (about 50 participants with 15 lecturers from most European countries), held 27 - 30 October 1997, was also supported by the Commission. The workshop which was organized by H. Burzlaff was divided into three topics: (1) classification and prediction of crystal structures, (2) empirical and (3) ab initio structure predictions. Among the lecturers were H. Burzlaff (Germany), W. E. Klee (Germany), I. D. Brown (Canada), G. Bergherhoff (Germany; ICSD), U. Mueller (Germany), J. M. Perez-Mato (Spain), E. Parthé (Switzerland), E. Makovicky (Denmark), H. Baernighausen (Germany), M. Jansen (Germany), J. Schoen (Germany), J. D. Gale (UK), K. Wright (UK), V. Urusov (Russia), K. Schwarz (Austria) and B. Winkler (Germany).

Support was also approved for the 10th International Symposium on Organic Crystal Chemistry which was held 17 - 21 August 1997 in Poznan-Rydzyna, Poland. This series of symposia started in 1977 with topics such as determination and interpretation of crystal structures. This year the topic was production and design of crystals with desired properties. There were more than 100 participants from 13 countries. The Programme Committee of this four-day meeting was chaired by J. Bernstein. A special plenary lecture was delivered by J. Karle as Honorary Chair of the symposium. Other speakers included M. Hollingsworth, C. Eckhardt, W. D. S. Motherwell, Yu. Antipin, M. Nieuwenhuyzen, C. P. Brock, K. Roberts, R. Davey, I. Karle, W. L. Duax and A. Katrusiak and about 20 other speakers, mainly from Europe including Poland.

At the ACA meeting in St Louis, USA, there were four sessions plus a poster preview session. The sessions highlighted: intermolecular interactions and hydrogen bonding; contemporary small molecule work which included discussions of problems, programs and current journal policies; powder diffraction methods; and state-of-the-art charge density analysis. All sessions were well attended and lively discussions followed most of the presentations.

The 1998 spring BCA meeting will include sessions on disorder and supramolecular assemblies as well as a workshop on twinning. A four-day workshop and symposium on Advanced Methods of Structure Determination by Diffraction and Related Methods will be held at the spring national meeting of the American Chemical Society in March 1988. This workshop was organized by A. Clearfield (current Vice-President of the ACA) and the opening speaker at the workshop will be P. Coppens (Immediate Past President of the IUCr). It is an example of efforts being made by the small-molecule community to `expose' a broad-based chemical audience to the benefits of X-ray crystallography.

Programme input for the Glasgow Congress was provided directly to the Programme Chair at a meeting of the Commission during the Seattle Congress. The structural chemistry community will have continuing input to the Glasgow Congress through Programme Committee members C. Kruger (Chair of the Commission on Structural Chemistry), and C. P. Brock.

Of major concern to the members of the Commission and the structural chemistry community in general is the shrinking presence of `small molecule' crystallography at crystallographic meetings. It is ironic that this area of crystallography that has become an indispensable part of so many research programmes is being pushed into the background as a `black box' analytical tool. Crystallography is being taught at fewer and fewer universities and the unfortunate results can already be seen in the increasing number of errors appearing in published crystallographic results. What the Commission and the IUCr can do to reverse this trend, or at least to ensure the accuracy of reported results, will be topics on the Commission's agenda when it meets in Glasgow.

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Updated 20th October 1998