The University of Adelaide - February 1997
The X-ray crystallographic laboratory at the University of Adelaide is housed in the Department of Chemistry but will soon move to the newly refurbished Johnson Laboratories, overlooking Victoria Drive and the Torrens River (for those who know the city of Adelaide). In a sense, this move will be the culmination of the complete overhaul of the crystallography centre at the University with new personnel, equipment and laboratory being in place.
The crystallographic baton was passed to Edward Tiekink at the University upon the retirements, in relatively close succession, of Stan Kennedy (of solid state chemistry/phase transitions fame) and Michael Snow (chiefly, coordination chemistry, optical activity) during the late 80's and early 90's. A new diffractometer was purchased in 1992 (from University and ARC funds) that replaced the Enraf Nonius CAD4 diffractometer that had been acquired earlier, and jointly, by Michael Snow and Max Taylor. On the arrival of the new diffractometer, the Adelaide share of the CAD4 was given to Max Taylor at the Flinders University of South Australia who, with due attention and care, has restored the diffractometer to excellent working order. Similarly, other items of specialist equipment have been decommissioned or stored away so that the laboratory now comprises primarily a Rigaku AFC6R diffractometer; it should be noted that, where necessary, preliminary photographic work is still conducted, but elsewhere! The diffractometer is fitted with a rotating anode (normally Mo, sometimes Cu) and the large amount of data generated is processed using the teXsan suite of programs installed on an Iris Indigo workstation. Increasingly, low temperature studies are being conducted using the MSC low temperature apparatus; support is being requested for a MSC cryosystem that will negate the need for the continuous replacement of tanks of liquid nitrogen.
Most of the work undertaken is in the broad field of small molecule crystallography, however, things are changing. 'Service/Consultancy' work is conducted for members of the University as well as for colleagues in other Departments around the country, through CRYSTIEKEM operated by Luminis, the commercial arm of the University. The major focus of these activities is in the field of organic and metal-organic systems. A significant amount of diffractometer time is also spent on themes of current, personal interest and involve a number of international collaborations. The most significant of these is a systematic investigation of the structural chemistry of main group element compounds. These studies are undertaken with the view of understanding the role of crystal packing effects on molecule structure; ab initio geometry optimisations now play an important, adjunct role in this work. More recently, a group of largely Adelaide-based researchers, including Allan Pring of the South Australian Museum, has formed a consortium investigating structural aspects of potential mineral hosts for toxic metals.
In summary, the Adelaide laboratory is modestly equipped but active with well over 100 structures determined per annum. It is staffed by an enthusiastic group which includes keen honours and post-graduate students. Some personal recognition for the laboratory was achieved recently, with the appointment of Edward Tiekink, from 1997, to the Editorial Board of Zeitschrift fur Kristallographie.