Open Laboratories will be an educational showcase during the International Year of Crystallography 2014. Open Laboratories will be hosted by selected universities. They will provide poster presentations, exhibitions, lectures for students, teachers` training workshops, hands-on experiments and demonstrations of mobile diffractometers. Open Laboratories for advanced training in crystallography are for talented students coming from developing countries in all continents. The Open Laboratories will be an excellent capacity-building opportunity in crystallography and its applications, as well as serving as a platform for scientific exchange and collaboration among promising scientists.
Why are they needed?
Crystallography underpins a myriad of sciences, as such trained crystallographers are required to continue to sustain these industries as well as to develop new ideas and techniques to help improve efficiency and create new products. Open Laboratories intend to foster and train the crystallographers of tomorrow which will help shape industries and economies.
For example, crystallography plays a pivotal role in medical industry, materials science, archaeology and mining, as X-ray crystallography has been the main method of determining the atomic structure of minerals and metals since the 1920s. X-ray diffractometers are used for qualitative and quantitative analysis of mineral compositions or ores and surrounding rocks, as well as in mineral processing.
Additionally, it provides phase identification which means understanding what are the minerals present in the mine, and quantification at a very accurate level. This allows predictions about the quality and then exploitation of the resource. As mineral exploration and production is a significant part of the economies of many developing countries, namely in Africa, it is crucial to train local scientists in these techniques in order that they may be able to contribute to the economic development of their region, and that mining companies can employ scientists of a high caliber.
During the IYCr2014, Open Laboratories for students are planned, in Africa, Asia and Latin America in collaboration with diffractometer manufacturers. Open laboratories are provisionally planned to take place in Uruguay, Cote d’Ivoire, United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Turkey, Ghana, South Africa, and Indonesia. However, UNESCO are still open for proposals of countries, especially CPLP like Cap Verde, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau or Angola, which would like to host; and encourage Member States to support this unique opportunity to build their capacities in this field.