Everybody loves crystals, but what makes them extra special to scientists is that they contain wonderful repeating patterns of atoms and molecules.
These patterns allow scientists to use a special technique called “crystallography” to work out how those atoms and molecules are arranged, and what they look like. This is one of the most powerful tools science has for both understanding how nature works and for making useful new things, from advanced materials to better medicines.
Australia has a special connection to crystallography through one of the key creators of the technique being an Australian, Lawrence Bragg. In fact, he won a Nobel Prize for it at the tender age of only 25 (along with his dad)!
In 2023, Melbourne will host the Congress of the International Union of Crystallography (IUCr2023), attracting the top crystallographers from around the world to talk about the latest advances from all across science.
To celebrate this important meeting, we will be organising lots of fun activities on patterns for everyone to enjoy, even if you’re not going to the Congress! These events include an art competition in 2022, and a world record attempt and exhibition in 2023.
Crystals and patterns can be linked to many parts of the Australian and State curriculums, and we’ll use this space to expand on those links and include some lesson plans for our activities too. There will be lots of way to use our activities in your classrooms and we will be teaming up with the ANSTO STEAM project to bring you more resources.