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AIC-SILS Common Meeting

The annual meetings of the Italian Crystallographic Association (AIC) and of the Italian Synchrotron Light Society (SILS) have been jointly held in Trieste from July 21st to July 25th 2003, in the beautiful area of Miramare by the International Centre of Theoretical Physics. More than 170 people coming from different Italian universities and research centres attended the conference. The goal of the joint meeting was to favour the interaction between two communities, which have strong scientific common interests. The crystallographic community, which usually uses laboratory sources, had the possibility to be informed on recent progresses of the modern synchrotron radiation facilities and instruments. On the other hand synchrotron radiation scientists had an overview of many scientific problems today of interest in the structural characterization of different classes of materials, from amorphous materials to proteins.

The conference was structured in four common symposia, three parallel microsymposia, and a common poster section. In addition a common section was dedicated to the presentation of the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility ESRF and of the ELETTRA Facility. The common microsymposia were dedicated to “Diffraction in Material Science”, to “Progress of Structural Biology promoted by Synchrotron Sources”, to “Spectroscopic Methods for Structural Investigations” and to “Archeometry”. The parallel microsymposia were organized separately from the two societies. AIC organized a micro symposium on “Structural Crystallography” and one on “Experiments, Modeling and Theories on Crystal Growth Mechanisms at the Atomic- and Nano-scale level”; the SILS organized a micro symposium on “Studies with Synchrotron Radiation”.

The microsymposium “Diffraction in Material Sience”, aimed at presenting recent and innovative applications of synchrotron and laboratory based diffraction techniques in the structural and physical characterization of inorganic materials.

The symposium “Progress of Structural Biology promoted by Synchrotron Sources”, was opened by J. Nyborg whose plenary lecture was focussed on the knowledge gained on the various elongation factors and how they are related to protein biosynthesis taking place on the ribosome. All the presentations stressed the increasing complexity of the biological systems studied in Italy and a common feature of all the experimental works was the utilization of European sources.

The symposium “Spectroscopic Methods for Structural Investigations” provided an overview of Synchrotron Radiation spectroscopic methods and their use in structural and morphological studies of different systems, from biological systems to semiconductor and nanostructures, focusing on the state of the art achieved in the different cases.

The microsymposium “Archeometry” was concerned with structural studies of archaeological materials by synchrotron radiation; it was shown how a microscopic comprehension of the structure favours the understanding of the origin of archeological finds, of the treatments experienced during their production and of the transformations experienced during their ageing. For the first time in Italy, recent results obtained by x-ray methods in this field were illustrated in order to stimulate the use of these probes by archaeologists, cultural heritage operators and restorers.

The microsymposium ” Structural Crystallography” was devoted to results and advances in structural crystallography. The plenary lecture by A. Fitch dealt with the use of synchrotron radiation in crystal structure solution and illustrated the instrumentation available for high-resolution powder diffraction measurements and different approaches to solve structures from synchrotron data. The following contributions have been devoted to new trends in chemistry, frontier researches on polymers and on incommensurate crystals. Two contributions have been devoted to methodological researches.

The microsymposium “Experiments, Modelling and Theories on Crystal Growth Mechanisms at the Atomic- and Nano-scale” focused on both experimental and theoretical results, and on fundamental mechanisms driving the growth of crystals at the microscopic (i.e., atomic and nano-scale) level. The Plenary lecture on “Probing Epitaxial Growth on a Microscopic Scale”, was given by Prof. Wolfgang Richter. Other contributions were on the use of real-time small-angle synchrotron X-ray scattering, on the in-situ and ex-situ AFM investigations of crystal growth at both nano- and micron-scale, on advanced molecular dynamics simulation of growth by self-assembling of constituent atoms/molecules and on the application of density functional theory (DFT) to crystal growth chemistry.

In the microsymposium “Studies with Synchrotron Radiation” the contributions outlined recent achievements in the characterization of ordered and disordered materials by high energy and/or space resolved synchrotron radiation photoemission and X-ray microdiffraction experiments

According to their tradition both Societies awarded young researchers with special prices. AIC gave the award to Marco Milanesio of the University of Piemonte Orientale, who presented a review lecture on his scientific work on experimental and theoretical structural chemistry.

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The 2003 AIC Prize winner with the organizers of the meeting in Trieste

SILS awarded four young scientists working in different fields. Namely R. Carboni from Bologna working in the characterization of semiconductor nanostructures, A. Sanson from Trento working on the dynamical properties of oxides, M. Merlini from Milano, working on heterogeneous catalytic systems for methane combustion and L. Di Costanzo from Trieste, working on protein crystallography.

The smooth and collaborative atmosphere present at the meeting favoured deep and extensive discussions between the two communities and the birth of new scientific collaborations can be foreseen.

Settimio Mobilio and Gilberto Vlaic