Crystallography in Spain. Brief historical outlines
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An article with the same title and nearly with the same content of this chapter, and a second one in the following issue, dedicated to the crystallographers in Spain during those years, were published in the journal of the IUCr:

Crystallography in SpainCrystallographers in Spain
IUCr Newsletter (2010) 18(3), 5-9
IUCr Newsletter (2010) 18(4), 5-13

Pdf copies of these articles can be obtained through the links shown under their bibliographic references above or by clicking on the images.

Also another article with the same title and nearly with the same content of this chapter, but written in Spanish, adding the geographical situation of the crystallographers in Spain, was also published in:

Cristalografia en España
Anales de Química(2010) 106, 319-329

A pdf copy of that article can also be obtained through that link or clicking on the image.

Spain has been linked to crystals since remote times as the home of important mining ore deposits. Perhaps the first Spanish contribution to the history of crystals was reported by Pliny the Elder (I Century AD) in his renowned Natural History, where he describes the windows and greenhouses of the richer inhabitants of the Roman Empire being covered by crystals of Lapis specularis, the Latin name for large transparent crystals of gypsum. This dihydrated form of calcium sulphate was extracted by Romans in Segóbriga (La Mancha) because of its crystal clarity, size (up to one meter) and perfect flatness. Part of this introduction is widely documented in the article by Juan M. García Ruiz, entitled The role of crystallography in the study of Natural History, published in Spanish in the Bulletin of the Royal Spanish Society of Natural History. Geological section, ISSN 0583-7510, Vol 100, No. 1-4, 2005, pags. 25-37.

Deposits of Lapis specularis in SegóbrigaCrystal sample from Lapis specularis
Deposits of Lapis specularis in Segóbriga (La Mancha) and a sample of that mineral
The vast amount of mineralogical information contained in the Pliny’s Natural History was preserved and enhanced in the Book XVI on Stones and Metals of the of Etymologiarum of Isidor of Seville (560-636). It is also in the Lapidarium of Alfonso X (1221-1284), a fascinating work by a group of Muslim, Hebrew and Christian sages from a time when peaceful multicultural collaboration was demonstrated to be possible. Nevertheless, it was the unparalleled talent of the Arabian geometers in investigating the problem of tessellation of two-dimensional space, which made the most important pre-Renaissance Spanish contribution to crystallography and geometrical art. The decorative symmetry of the tiling in the Alhambra Palace in Granada is today used to teach symmetry all over the world.

Mosaics in La AlhambraLa Alhambra (Granada)
Left: Sample of mosaics in La Alhambra (Granada, XIII Century)
Right: A view of La Alhambra (Granada, XIII Century)
Several hundred years later, in the XV Century, we find many examples of interest in bidimensional structures and symmetry, as in the ceiling of the main rooms of castles, palaces and special buildings such as the University of Alcala or Segovia’s Castle, near Madrid.

The variety of Spanish mining and the enormous richness of the American ores motivated the work of excellent metallurgists and mineralogists such as Juan de Arfe Villafañe (1535-1603), Diego de Santiago, and Álvaro Alonso Barba (1569-1662), the author of the book Arte de los metales. He developed the method for recovering silver and gold by using the mercury extracted in Almadén (La Mancha), the largest mercury mine in the world. In addition, America and the Far East provided stunning and fascinating mineral samples for collectors and scientists of the New World. The Spanish Royal Cabinet of Natural History (Real Gabinete de Historia Natural) was created in 1771 from the collection of minerals of Pedro Franco Dávila (1711-1786). It was probably the best collection of its time, and was used by Jean Baptiste Louis Romé de Lisle (or Romé de L’Isle, 1736-1790) during his studies on crystal morphology.

In 1799, Anales de Historia Natural, the first Spanish scientific periodical journal, was printed. This is where Proust, Herrgen, Del Rio, Humboldt and other mineralogists, educated in the Wernerian School of Freiburg, published their first articles on the nature of crystals. The controversy between the Werner’s ideas on the classification of minerals based on external properties and the new concept introduced by and the abate Romé de L’IsleRené Just Haüy (1743-1822) on crystal morphology is clearly observed in the Anales de Historia Natural. It demonstrates how aware Spanish science was of the crucial changes occurring in mineralogy during the XVIII and XIX centuries.

A collection of crystallographic solids gifted by Haüy to the Galician mathematician José Rodríguez González (1770-1824) was fully used by the crystallographers Augusto González de Linares (1845-1904) and Laureano Calderón Arana (1847-1894), who were implied in the establishment of what probably was the first (1888) Chair of Crystallography in European Universities (in Santiago de Compostela, Spain).

Some crystallographic models of the abate Häuy
Some crystallographic models of the abate Haüy

At the beginning of the XX century, Spanish crystallographers were also aware of the international advances in this field. For instance, Francisco Pardillo (see his obituary written by J.L. Amorós) immediately realised the importance of the investigations of Laue and in 1913 he reported these studies to Boletín de la Real Sociedad Española de Historia Natural, namely in the article entitled Descubrimientos recientes sobre la estructura de los cristales.

Francisco PardilloBlas Cabrera
Left: Francisco Pardillo (1884-1955) (*)
Derecha: Blas Cabrera (1878-1945)
(*) Photo provided by the Royal Academy of Sciences and Arts of Barcelona

Two years later, in 1915, when the Braggs shared the Nobel Prize, Blas Cabrera –who later became director of the Instituto Nacional de Física y Química– wrote a report on the novel application of X-rays to determine the structure of materials in Anales de la Sociedad Española de Física y Química, that was published in four consecutive communications published in 1915 (part I, part II, part III, part IV). We suggest you also to read the semblance on Blas Cabrera published in 2013 (in Spanish).

Julio PalaciosGabriel M. Cardoso
Left: Julio Palacios (1891-1970)
Right: Gabriel M. Cardoso (1896-1954)

Gabriel Martín Cardoso in the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales in Madrid, Julio Palacios (a pupil of Blas Cabrera) at the Instituto Nacional de Física y Química and Francisco Pardillo at the Department of Mineralogy of the University of Barcelona formed the first Spanish groups of modern Crystallography.

Luis Rivoir and others worked with Julio Palacios on structure determinations of inorganic and organic crystals and on the perfection of the Fourier methods of analysis. Francisco Pardillo independently created a crystallography school in his department at the University in Barcelona. Gabriel Martin Cardoso trained Julio Garrido, who later moved to the Julio Palacios group.

The "Rockefeller"The "Rockefeller"
Left: The National Institute of Physics and Chemistry (Instituto Nacional de Física y Química, Madrid, 1932). It was kindly named as “The Rockefeller” due to the fact that it was built using funds ($420.000) from the Rockefeller Junior Foundation.
Right: The Rockefeller”. Today, as Institute of Physical Chemistry “Rocasolano”, is one of the research Institutes of the CSIC, the Spanish National Research Council

X-ray laboratory in "The Rockefeller". Click on it to get a larger image
The X-ray Laboratory in "The Rockefeller" during the 1930's.  Julio Palacios is standing on the left, behind the X-ray tube.
Click on the image to get a larger copy

The Rockefeller was inaugurated on February 6th 1932 by Fernando de los Ríos, the Minister of Public Instruction.
Niceto Alcalá-Zamora, President of the 2nd Spanish Republic, visited the new building on March 7th 1932.

In 1925 the Rockefeller Junior Foundation estimated the cost of the building and donated $420,000. One year later, the Spanish Government acquired the land where it is located and commissioned the project to the architects Lacasa and Sánchez-Arcas. To perform the work, they visited several research institutes in other countries, accompanied by Miguel Catalán and Enrique Moles, and were advised by a commission made, among others, by Blas Cabrera and Julio Palacios. The German company Siemens & Halske was responsible for the technical and scientific facilities.

Luis Brú José L. Amorós Julio Garrido
Left: Luis Brú (1909-1997)
Center: José L. Amorós (1920-2001)
Right: Julio Garrido (1911-1982)

The impetus of several young crystallographers after the Spanish Civil War created the foundation of current Spanish Crystallography. Among them, Luis Bru pushed X-ray and electron microscopy first in the Canary Islands, later (after 1949) in Sevilla and finally (after 1956) in the University Complutense of Madrid. Luis Bru, excellent microscopist, was a staunch defender of Crystallography in Spain, as he himself stated in an article published in 1983 in a Spanish newspaper.

Luis Rivoir headed the X-ray Department at the Instituto de Fisica “Alonso de Santa Cruz” (CSIC, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, the Spanish National Research Council and formerly the Instituto Nacional de Fisica y Quimica).

José Luis Amorós
(a former pupil of Pardillo) was at the Instituto Lucas Mallada (CSIC) from 1942 and later on at the University of Barcelona, at the Saint Louis University (USA) and finally (1956) he moved to the University Complutense of Madrid where he formed a group of young crystallographers and crystal growers.

Acta Crystallographica
Cover of the first volume and first issue of Acta Crystallographica where the first article was signed by Julio Garrido, from the National Institute of Physics and Chemistry (Madrid)
(click on the image to get the article)

When Acta Crystallographica appeared in 1948, the first article published in its first volume was signed by Julio Garrido on “Observations sur la diffusion des rayons X par les cristaux de ClO3Na” (Acta Cryst. 1948, 1, 3-4). In that first issue there was also a note from Julio Garrido about the carnitine structure, as well as a review of the book by J. Garrido and J. Orland “Los rayos X y la estructura fina de los cristales: Fundamentos teóricos y Métodos prácticos” (1946). Julio Garrido spent some years in Chile and several photos from him at that time can be found in the nice collection offered by Patricio Cordero. [Luis Bru wrote (in Spanish) a loving reminder about Julio Garrido in a Spanish newspaper (1982)].

In 1949, the CSIC founded the Spanish National Crystallographic Committee which joined the International Union of Crystallography created just two years before, in 1947.

In 1950, the Spanish Association of Crystallography (ACE) was founded with 35 members, including Francisco Pardillo, Luis Rivoir, Gabriel Martin Cardoso, Manuel Abad and José Luis Amorós as the first Board of Governors. Its first meeting was held in Barcelona.

Many important crystallographers were invited to Spain during those years, including 
Taylor, Laval, Lipson, Jeffrey, Wyckoff, Hägg, Buerger, Zädonov, Fornaseri, MacGillavry, Strunz, Henry...

Ten years later, in 1960, the Ibero-American Association for Crystallography was founded.

The work of Xavier Mañes Beltrán (in Spanish) describes very well the development of crystallography in Spain during the period 1912-1955, and part of this historical development was also collected in the volume entitled Fifty Years of X-Ray Diffraction, edited by Paul Peter Ewald in 1962 on the occasion of the commemoration meeting organized by the International Union of Crystallography and held in Munich (Germany).

Manuel Font-AltabaSagrario Martínez-CarreraSeverino García-Blanco
Left: Manuel Font-Altaba (1922-2005)
Center: Sagrario Martínez-Carrera (1925-2011)
Right: Severino García-Blanco (1922-2003)

During those years students knew that Crystallography in Spain was centered around two main schools, one in Barcelona around Manuel Font-Altaba (University of Barcelona) and the other in Madrid around both Sagrario Martínez-Carrera and Severino García-Blanco (Institute of Physical-Chemistry “Rocasolano”, CSIC). This is where Sagrario Martínez-Carrera incorporated her experiences from Pittsburgh regarding the incipient computing programs that replaced the Beevers-Lipson strips and the early calculation machines. Those groups concentrated a couple of X-ray diffraction machines for Jong-Bowman and Weissenberg methods and started using (with many difficulties) the first IBM computers. The 70’s brought the first automated four-circle single-crystal diffractometers which slowly replaced the older Weissenberg and precession cameras.

Left: Cameras and X-ray tubes used in Madrid during the 60's. Right: The first atomated 4-circle diffractometer in Spain
Left: Weissenberg cameras and X-ray tubes used in Madrid during the decades 1950-1960s.
Right: The first automated 4-circle diffractometer (PW1100) installed in Spain, Madrid, in 1973

During many years an extra effort was made by the “Rocasolano” group in Madrid to give support to all their Spanish colleagues, by collecting data, creating and maintaining the first crystallographic software collections in Spain (installed in a UNIVAC mainframe of the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science), and making an effort to reach an agreement with the Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre (CCDC) and the CSIC for a free-of-charge distribution of the CSD crystallographic database around the whole country. This agreement, thanks to the generosity of the CCDC, later covered all Latin American countries as well.

The influence of Crystallography, so important for the development of Chemistry in Spain during the last third of the Twentieth Century, led (through many efforts) to the establishment of several Crystallography groups whose relevance is now beyond any doubt. In this enterprise, the generation of Spanish crystallographers born around 1940 also played an important role. Through great effort, they managed to elevate Spanish crystallography to its rightful place on the international stage. Many of them have passed away, including F.H. Cano (CSIC),  C. Foces-Foces (CSIC), X. Solans (Univ. of Barcelona) and F. Sanz (Univ. of Valencia); others have retired such as J. Fayos, J.A. Subirana (Polytechnic Univ. of Barcelona) and M.A. Cuevas (Univ. de Barcelona), while others are still active including C. MiravitllesE. Iglesias, M. Martínez-Ripoll (CSIC) and J.M. Amigó (Univ. of Valencia). However, unlike what happened in other developed countries, Crystallography in Spain, and especially in academic institutions, still seems to remain an unresolved matter. This is probably due to the fact that it has erroneously been considered as a minor technical issue, whose application and interpretation is trivial. Despite the importance of Crystallography for Biology and Biomedicine, and despite the rather large number of research groups in Spain (very competitive in Cellular and Molecular Biology), the lack of resources dedicated to the few Spanish laboratories active in macromolecular Crystallography becomes very apparent.

At the end of the eighties Spain became the first associate scientific member of the Institute Laue-Langevin (ILL), the high flux neutron reactor of Grenoble and new possibilities were open for the crystallographic community including physicists, biologists, and engineers. An increasing activity developed around magnetic crystallography, soft condensed matter, liquids and amorphous systems and biology. The synchrotron techniques also contributed to a new step in the crystallographic activity with the entrance of Spain in the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF).

ALBA, the Spanish synchrotron
Spanish synchrotron ALBA (November 2009)

Nevertheless, today the Spanish Group of Crystallography and Crystal Growth (Grupo Especializado de Cristalografía y Crecimiento Cristalino, GE3C) has over 200 members. If other crystallographers associated with Neutron Users, Solid State, Proteomics, Surfaces, etc., are taken into account about 400 Spanish researchers are currently involved in crystallographic advances. Most Spanish crystallographers are grouped in well-recognized teams distributed throughout Spain: the Canary Islands, Andalusia, Valencia, Asturias, Catalonia, Galicia, the Basque Country and of course, in Madrid, as well as others. They share over 200 X-ray diffraction machines for both powder and single crystals diffractometers, and maintain an active participation in neutron and synchrotron techniques in different European facilities (two Spanish instruments at the ILL, D1B and D15, and two beamlines at the ESRF, BM16 and BM25). In addition, the Spanish synchrotron ALBA, was inaugurated in March 2010 with several crystallographic beamlines, and where electron microscopy will also be well represented, from high resolution transmission electron microscopy to field emission electron scanning microscopy.

The first meeting of the IUCr held in Madrid in 1956
The first meeting of the IUCr held in Madrid in 1956

Spanish crystallographers hold a yearly National Congress and have also organized several International Seminars, Workshops, Conferences and Meetings. At the IUCr Executive Committee meeting arranged during the Third General Assembly in Paris in July 1954, it was proposed that the IUCr should organize specialized symposia between the assemblies. The first of these meetings was held in Madrid in 1956 and since then, specialized Inter-Congress meetings have become a regular feature of the Union’s activities.

J.M. Bijvoet and wife (Madrid, 1956)From left to right: L.O. Brockway and wife, and Gunnar Hägg (Madrid, 1956)
Left: J.M. Bijvoet and wife (Madrid, 1956)
Right: L.O. Brockway and wife, and Gunnar Hägg (right) (Madrid, 1956)
R.W.G. WyckoffPaul P. Ewald and Jorge Doetsch
Left: Ralph W.G. Wyckoff (Madrid, 1956)
Right: Paul P. Ewald  and Jorge Doetsch (right) (Madrid, 1956)

In April 1974 an Inter-Congress Conference was held in Madrid on the subject of Anomalous Scattering, with the program that can be obtained through this link. The results of this conference were assembled into a valuable book dealing with every conceivable aspect of anomalous scattering known at that time.

Meeting on Anomalous Scattering, held in Madrid in 1974
Meeting on Anomalous Scattering, held in Madrid in 1974
See also the information shown under this link...

Dorothy Hodgkin, S.C. Abrahams and S. Martínez-Carrera
From left to right, Dorothy Hodgkin, S.C. Abrahams and S. Martínez-Carrera (Madrid, 1974)

Thanks to the explicit votes of Mario Nardelli (Italy) and Olga Kennard (UK), as well as to the financial support given by M. Font-Altaba (the Mayor of Barcelona) the 6th European Crystallographic Meeting (ECM-6) was successfully held in Barcelona during the summer of 1980, with Carlos Miravitlles as Chairman.

IUCr-2011 logoCrystallographers working in Spain, but especially those working on both, the Local Organizing and the International Program Committees, offered an excellent organization for the XXII Congress and General Assembly of the International Union of Crystallography and made Madrid-2011, nearly one hundred years since the Laue and Bragg’s experiments, a memorable event from both scientific and social perspectives.

The congress brought together nearly 2800 people (1880 participants, 360 students, 350 grants, 65 exhibitors and 113 accompanying persons). Up to 73 countries were represented with 2040 abstracts that were finally distributed in 98 Micro-Symposia with 490 oral and 1550 poster presentations, 20 of which were awarded and sponsored by 9 institutions or commercial companies.

In addition, 36 Keynote speakers covered the state of art of crystallography in many of its most important fields, from very large macromolecular assemblies, ribosome complexes, membrane proteins, supramolecular chemistry, structural aspects of bacterial pathogenicity, structural basis of cell regulatory processes, structural genomics, validation and error aspects in protein structures, XAFS as a new tool for protein structure-function investigations, ultrafast crystallography using X-ray free electron lasers, coherent X-ray diffraction, single-molecule and hybrid methods, new approaches to experimental phasing of macromolecules, automated electron diffraction tomography as an ab-initio structure solution method, polycrystalline materials, powder diffraction at nanoscale, magnetic neutron crystallography, commensurate and incommensurate structures, soft matter, solid gas materials, energy-related materials, crystal engineering, very recent advances in crystal growth, new topological structural characterization aspects, high-pressure molecular crystals and mineralogy, atomic resolution real-space imaging, and up to ornamental art of the Alhambra (from plane groups to quasilattices), among others. In summary, it showed the most recent research done world-wide in the most important scientific fields, from Mineralogy up to Chemistry, Physics, Material Sciences, Nanotechnology, Biochemistry, Biology and Biomedicine.

Some members of the Local Organizing Committee. Click on it to see a biggerFrom left to the middle, Tomas A. Steitz and Venki Ramakrishnan. Click on it to see a bigger copy
Left: Some members of the Local Organizing Committee
Right: Thomas A. Steitz and Venki Ramakrishnan accompanied by Martin M.-Ripoll (Vice-Chairman of IUCr2011)
Click on any image to get larger copies

Special mention deserved the 4 Plenary Lectures of the congress. Three of them, based on the structural and functional aspects of ribosome, were presented by the 2009 Chemistry Nobel Laureates, Thomas A. Steitz, Venki Ramakrishnan and Ada Yonath. The fourth Lecture was given by Omar M. Yaghi on metal organic frameworks. In addition, the congress included also some other parallel events like 6 Satellite Meetings, 2 Specialized Workshops and 7 Parallel Meetings.

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