The IUCr-UNESCO OpenLab started as an initiative of the International Union of Crystallography during the International Year of Crystallography in partnership with the CCDC and major equipment manufacturers such as Bruker, Panalytical, Agilent, STOE, Dectris, Xenocs, Rigaku, and Anton Paar. The aims of the project were to encourage the use of advanced instrumentation, to increase the availability of technology in countries which already have X-ray diffraction facilities and to start some crystallographic activity in less privileged countries (for more information please visit http://www.iycr2014.org/openlabs).
During 2014, Facultad de Química from Universidad de la República (FQ-UdelaR) aqcuired a Bruker D8 Venture diffractometer and was consequently chosen by the IUCr as host of the only Type 1 IUCr-UNESCO OpenLab that has taken place, also the first OpenLab sponsored by Bruker in Latin America (July 2014).
The second edition of this OpenLab in Uruguay was held in February at FQ-UdelaR sponsored by the IUCr (through the IYCr2014 Legacy Fund), Bruker, Comisión Académica de Posgrado (CAP-UdelaR) and Teclab (Bruker representative in Uruguay).
The event brought together 44 participants – young professors, PhD, MSc and undergraduate students – from Argentina (4), Bolivia (1), Brazil (4), Chile (3), Costa Rica (2), Perú (2) and Uruguay (28) who had the chance to learn the fundamentals of crystallography and the experimental application of single crystal x-ray diffraction.
The curriculum included theoretical lectures, practical sessions and many hours of equipment time dedicated to collecting datasets from crystals brought by participants, together completing the hands-on experience that is in the spirit of this type of school. All participants had the chance to experience the process of SC-XRD, from crystal selection and mounting to CIF preparation, with practice samples and data. They were also provided with temporary licenses to Bruker APEX3 software and the Cambridge Structural Database to complete their structural analysis and learn about databases.
A special session given by Prof. Javier Ellena from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, was dedicated exclusively to the use of the CSD. Students learned about the history of the CSD, the use of ConQuest for data searching and statistical analysis, and data visualization using Mercury. IsoStar was used within Mercury to make scatterplots and contours with the participants’ structures obtained during the OpenLab. Structural analysis using CSD-Materials within Mercury was used to comment on how the tool can be used for crystal engineering applications. CIF preparation was taught using the enCIFer program and the obtained structures were validated using MOGUL.
Prof. Javier Ellena discusses the many uses of the Cambridge Structural Database
The school finished with 15 student presentations who solved their own problems and a written exam taken by 21 participants who will receive academic credit for the participation in the OpenLab.
An anonymous evaluation showed that except for the unanimous feeling that the course was very intense, most comments are positive and some helpful remarks were given that will help organize future schools of this kind in Latin America.