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“A Focus on Crystallography” – a new publication by FIZ Karlsruhe

18. February 2015

What part does knowledge about crystalline compounds play in research? How are crystallography databases designed, and what are their fields of application? Which relationships exist between crystallographic information and mathematics? Experts answer these and many more interesting questions in the new scientific publication “A Focus on Crystallography”.

Karlsruhe, February 2015. FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz Institute for Information Infrastructure has published a new brochure within its “Focus” series. “A Focus on Crystallography“ is dedicated to the content and development of ICSD - the Inorganic Crystal Structure Database. The database’s fields of application are illustrated by examples. The brochure also shows the close relationship between crystallography and mathematics.

ICSD is an essential numerical database with the world’s largest collection of inorganic crystal structures. It is a highly renowned basis for research in materials science and inorganic crystallography. Its beginnings date back to the year 1978, and it has been published by FIZ Karlsruhe in cooperation with the National Institute of Standards (NIST, USA) since 1997. Scientists around the globe use ICSD to identify or search for new crystalline compounds.

“Crystal structures are essential to understand solids. For example, every kind of semiconductor modules, solar cells, or materials used in space engineering is based on knowledge about the properties of crystalline materials. Without this knowledge, many innovations and developments in science and industry could not be made,” says Sabine Brünger-Weilandt, President and CEO of FIZ Karlsruhe.

Driven by new application scenarios and technological progress, e.g. in the area of measuring procedures, crystallography is steadily evolving. Thanks to modern computer technology there is also much progress in the calculation of theoretical structures. Without mathematical methods it would not be possible to identify such highly complex structures.

However, the influence of mathematics dates back a lot further. For example, it allowed for the calculation of the platonic solids and enabled Kepler to examine snowflakes. Mathematical models are also required to explain the non-periodic quasicrystals, the discovery of which was awarded with the Nobel Prize in 2011. All this information can be followed up in zbMATH, the world’s largest and most comprehensive mathematics database.

It is not only essential to document information on crystals in professional databases. Now more than ever before, targeted searching, analysis and post-processing of complex information also requires suitable tools that are state of the art. The brochure depicts the search and analysis features of the above mentioned databases with examples.

“A Focus on Crystallography“ not only demonstrates FIZ Karlsruhe’s topical, comprehensive offer in the area of inorganic crystallography, but also outlines the history and future fields of application of ICSD.

„A Focus on Crystallography” (pdf) is available for free download at

The printed brochure can be ordered free of charge with ruediger.mack(at)fiz-karlsruhe(dot)de.


FIZ Karlsruhe, Dr. Helmut Müller
Abteilung Naturwissenschaft und Technik
10587 Berlin

Phone: +49(0)030 39 99 34 67

Press contact:
Dr. Robert Hauser
Phone: +49 (0) 7247-808-115

Marketing Communications:
Rüdiger Mack
Phone: +49 (0)7247 808-513

FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz Institute for Information Infrastructure is a non-profit corporation and the largest non-university institution for information infrastructure in Germany. Our mission is to supply scientists and companies with professional research and patent information as well as to develop innovative information services. FIZ Karlsruhe strives to strengthen the transfer of knowledge in Germany and abroad and to support the promotion of innovation. FIZ Karlsruhe is a member of the Leibniz Association, which comprises almost 90 institutions involved in research activities and/or the development of scientific infrastructure. Learn more by visiting us at, and follow us on Twitter (@fiznews).