Crystal structure analysis

Crystal structure analysis. Principles and practice

A J Blake, W Clegg, J M Cole, J S O Evans, P Main, S Parsons and D J Watkin 

Oxford, UK: Oxford Science Publications (for International Union of Crystallography)  2009 | 387pp | ?32.50 (SB)

ISBN 9780199219476

Reviewed by Mairi Haddow


Like the first, the second edition of this book is ideally suited to postgraduate students trying to get to grips with structure analysis from x-ray diffraction experiments. The book is aimed primarily at those who have some experience in practical and theoretical crystallography, and thus is not really suitable for complete beginners. 

We are guided through different stages of crystal structure determination, although the order is not perfectly logical at first glance. This reflects the book’s origins as a series of lectures, which also may account for the notable lack of diagrams in one or two of the book’s 22 chapters. However, at the expense of duplication of some ideas, each chapter is nicely self-contained and provides an excellent point of reference for those wishing to remind themselves of a particular area. 

Most chapters contain a useful series of questions which students can use to test their understanding and answers are provided.

Examples in the book are drawn heavily from small-molecule single-crystal x-ray experiments performed in a typical laboratory. However, several further complementary chapters have been included, specifically on extended inorganic structures, powder diffraction, and a short introduction to other radiation sources. The aim is to give students an understanding of what else is possible without attempting to be definitive and in this it performs very well.

On the whole, the book is an excellent learning resource. The book provides enough theoretical background in order for the student to gain a thorough understanding of the subject without drowning him or her in rigorous mathematical detail, and furthermore, gives valuable practical advice for collecting good data in the first place, a topic all too often overlooked in other texts.