The crystallography of correlated disorder

Nature. 2015 May 21;521(7552):303-9. doi: 10.1038/nature14453.


Classical crystallography can determine structures as complicated as multi-component ribosomal assemblies with atomic resolution, but is inadequate for disordered systems--even those as simple as water ice--that occupy the complex middle ground between liquid-like randomness and crystalline periodic order. Correlated disorder nevertheless has clear crystallographic signatures that map to the type of disorder, irrespective of the underlying physical or chemical interactions and material involved. This mapping hints at a common language for disordered states that will help us to understand, control and exploit the disorder responsible for many interesting physical properties.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Crystallization
  • Crystallography*
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Electronics
  • Ice / analysis
  • Magnetic Phenomena
  • Proteins / chemistry


  • Ice
  • Proteins