By metastable-materials, Sep 24 2014 10:44AM

This summer members of the Metastable Materials Group attended the 23rd Congress of the International Union of Crystallography, which was held in Montreal.

Contributions from the group included a number of oral and poster presentations. Invited talks came from both Dr Andy Burrows and Dr Lynne Thomas, who spoke in parallel sessions. Andy gave his insight into the synthesis and post-synthetic modification of metal-organic frameworks, which was received with great interest by the largely crystallographic audience, whilst Lynne presented her collaborative research into the complicated nanostructure of cellulose microfibrils. In addition, Professors Wilson and Raithby were both invited to chair sessions during the Congress.

Alongside the many exciting microsymposia and keynote speakers, a number of interesting plenary lectures were scheduled. These included a fascinating talk by Dr David Bish describing his work with the CHEMIN instrument, currently installed on NASA’s Curiosity rover and undertaking the first ever X-ray Powder diffraction measurements on Mars! All this was only part of a busy programme of scientific and social activities, which kept everybody busy and engaged throughout a hugely enjoyable week!

By metastable-materials, Jul 16 2014 08:46AM

On 26th June, the Metastable Materials team attended the Big Bang Fair South West at the University of Exeter. The event was attended by 2000 school students and over 80 exhibitors from all over the South West. We had an interactive stand, making sweet crystals from marshmallows, jelly babies and cocktail sticks (5kg of each type was consumed in the day!). We started training the next generation of beamline scientists using a fully functioning lego beamline loaned to us by Diamond Light Source. We also put the students' sense of smell and observational skills to the test by looking at the chiral molecule carvone, which gives the distinctive smells of spearmint and carraway seed. We had metastable balloons and bubbles to give away too!

The stand proved to be very popular (not just because of the sweets!) and we were able to communicate the importance of the structure of solid materials both in terms of the molecular shape (and why we are working on chiral molecules), but also in terms of the intricacies of crystal packing demonstrated by the polymorphism of chocolate (we had some really bad chocolate on display). It was a long day for the team but a thoroughly enjoyable one!

For more pictures, go to our Gallery page.