From geology to biology: an interdisciplinary course in crystal growth

J Appl Crystallogr. 2022 Oct 1;55(Pt 5):1368-1376. doi: 10.1107/S1600576722008032.


This contribution shares experience of teaching an interdisciplinary university course in crystal growth with examples ranging from geology to biology. This is an attempt to combine teaching the basics of the classical and non-classical theories of crystallization with impressive examples of crystals growing around us and in the human body, as well as demonstration of the common phenomena in the growth of minerals in nature, crystalline materials in industry and the laboratory, and biomimetic and stimulus-responsive crystals. Lectures are supported by laboratory exercises. Students can also perform an individual research project and present an oral contribution at a mini-conference. Examples of the topics considered in the course are given, and an extensive list of references to papers and web resources is provided, which may be useful to those who want to implement anything from the authors' experience.

Keywords: biopolymers; crystal growth; high pressure; materials; minerals; pharmaceuticals; polymorphism; teaching.

Grants and funding

This work was funded by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation in the implementation of the research program ‘Use of synchrotron radiation for virological research’ within the framework of the Federal Scientific and Technical Program for the Development of Synchrotron and Neutron Research and Research Infrastructure for 2019–2027 (agreement No. 075-15-2021-1355; 12 October 2021).