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Hoffman Estates High School ESRP 2017

Using X-Ray Diffraction to Confirm the Structure of Cataloged Crystals and Determine the Structure of Unknown Crystals


  • Students:
    • Zornitsa Aleksieva
    • Harpreet Auby
    • Jill Prigge
    • Miraj Shah
    • Matt Vlasty
    • Rudolph Webster
  • Teachers:
    • Wayne Oras
  • Mentors:
    • Tieyan Chang (University of Chicago, ChemMatCARS)
    • Yu-Sheng Chen (University of Chicago, ChemMatCARS)
    • Grass Wang (University of Chicago, ChemMatCARS)
    • Ting-Zheng Xie (University of Akron, Polymer Science)

Advanced Photon Source Sector 15: ChemMatCARS

Some of the most important materials in our world are comprised of crystal structures. Crystallography is a well established research tool in chemistry, biology, and material science. Over the last century, improvements in X-ray crystallography have provided 3-dimensional structures of molecules at atomic resolution, which is necessary for understanding chemical and biological systems and their resultant mechanisms. For example, structure and function are intertwined in biology, and changing one often has great effects on the other.  Crystals in biology are involved with determining protein structures. In biochemistry, this is important as it leads to the development of drugs that can inhibit or promote enzymes. In the field of microelectronics, determining crystal structure allows for the advancement of technology in integrated circuits. Determining crystal structures also allows us to differentiate between allotropes. One example of this is looking at the differences in the arrangement of carbon atoms in graphite and diamonds to understand the causes of their respective properties. X-ray crystallography can be used to determine many crystal properties from resultant electron density maps, such as bond length and particle spacing. Quantitative information derived from the experiment can give way to various chemical, physical, and biological properties. Through this, the interactions between the respective particles in the crystals can be determined and a function of the crystal can be cataloged.

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