Ettore Majorana Foundation and Centre for Scientific Culture
President: Professor Antonino Zichichi


Director: Sir Tom Blundell, FRS FMedSci

Erice2016 logo

49th Course

High-pressure crystallography:
status artis and emerging opportunities


a NATO Advanced Study Institute

Erice, Italy • 27 May (arrival) to 5 June (departure) 2016

Purpose of the course

High-pressure crystallography:
status artis and emerging opportunitites

Purpose of the course

Erice2016 logo New experimental and theoretical approaches in the field of high pressure crystallography allow us to address fundamental scientific questions in disciplines such as Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geosciences and Materials Science. High pressure - from the very modest pressure required to induce the denaturation of proteins and modify intermolecular interactions, through the higher pressures required to synthesise new materials for technological application, to the ultra-high pressures required to radically alter the chemical physical properties of simple elements and materials or recreate the conditions found in Earth's and other planets' interior - is making it a versatile and central tool in condensed matter science.

Fundamental topics covered in the course include experimental techniques for pressure generation, X-ray and neutron diffraction on single crystal and powder materials, comparative structural studies and combined high-temperature and low-temperature experiments. These will be demonstrated through examples of different chemical and structural complexity, from minerals to ices and biomolecules. Specialized and frontiers high-pressure research topics will include computational crystallography, dynamic compression, characterization of liquids and glasses and pair distribution function analysis. The course will be rounded up by illustrating the use of high-pressure as a means to study and access new materials for industrial application such as pharmaceuticals, energy storage, magnetic and ultra-hard materials.

Lectures will be complemented by demonstration and workshop sessions. The course will provide a platform for young and senior scientists to interact and identify as well as discuss new challenges in this rapidly evolving and vibrant research area.

Erice2016 logo

Course Directors

Francesca P.A. Fabbiani

Georg-August University
Göttingen, Germany

John B. Parise

Stony Brook University
New York, NY, USA

Malcolm Guthrie

European Spallation Source
Lund, Sweden
(Image STFC/ Stephen Kill)

Sponsored by:


1 April 2016

Apply now!


6 December 2015


click on the name to see bio-sketches

University of Padua, Italy

Ross Angel

The focus of my research for the past 30 years has been to determine the structure-property relationships of key industrial and geological materials to provide the basis for rationale materials design and understanding geological processes. The details of the arrangement of the atoms within a solid determine its physical, mechanical, thermodynamic, elastic and chemical properties. So, to determine how the properties of materials depend on their structures, I determine how their properties and structures change under high pressures. In the past, I have developed and established novel methods for single-crystal X-ray diffraction at extreme conditions in order to characterize and understand the fundamental relationship between the atomic-scale structures and properties of materials. The software packages that I have developed for diffractometer control and processing of data are distributed freely from my web site, Workshops and tutorials to show how they can be used to collect and process diffraction data will be given during the Erice school. I have also used diffraction methods in combination with Landau theory, symmetry-mode analysis, and a novel topological forward-modelling technique that I have developed, to determine the structure-property relationships of framework structures. These include the most abundant minerals in the Earth and the most important materials for electronics (perovskites) and chemical engineering (zeolites and MOFs).

École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland
and Univ. Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France

Livia Eleonora Bove

Livia Eleonora Bove ( obtained her PhD degree in Physics from the University of Perugia in Italy in 2001, before joining the Institut Laue Langevin in Grenoble, France as a post-doc, first, and as staff scientist since 2003. She became researcher at CNRS in 2005, and she joined the IMPMC laboratory in Paris where she started working in high-pressure research. She has been involved with neutron instrumentation and research for the last 18 years. Her main field of interest today deals with studies on water, aqueous solutions, and gas hydrates under extreme conditions of pressure and temperature, including polyamorphism phenomena, liquid-liquid transition, ice nucleation, and nuclear quantum effects.
She leads two international programs between France (IMPMC, ILL), Austria (Innsbruck University), Germany (Gottingen University) and Switzerland (EPFL), to develop quasi-elastic neutron scattering techniques in Paris-Edinburgh cells at pressures beyond 10 GPa, and to characterize planetary ices and ice hydrates dynamics under extreme conditions. In 2014, she temporarily moved to the EPFL in Switzerland as invited scientist.


Imperial College London, United Kingdom


APS, Argonne National Laboratory, USA


Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, CA, USA

Georg-August Universität Göttingen, Germany

Francesca P. A. Fabbiani

Francesca P. A. Fabbiani ( obtained her PhD from The University of Edinburgh in 2006, working in the group of Prof. Colin R. Pulham. After gaining postdoctoral experience at The University of Edinburgh, the University of Western Australia and the ISIS Neutron Source, she moved to the University of Goettingen in 2008, where she is currently leading an Emmy Noether Junior Research Group funded through the German Research Foundation (DFG). Her research interests lie broadly in the field of polymorphism of molecular crystals, particularly in developing and applying high-pressure methodologies, e.g. in situ high-pressure crystallisation below 1 GPa, for exploring the phase and crystallisation diagrams of pharmaceuticals and small biomolecules.

Europen Spallation Source, Lund, Sweden

Malcolm Guthrie

Malcolm Guthrie has been working in the field of high-pressure diffraction at major neutron and synchrotron facilities for almost 17 years. He has studied how the structure of matter responds to extremes pressure across multiple length scales and his interests span crystalline, liquid, amorphous and low-dimensional substances.
Dr Guthrie completed his PhD in 2002 in the UK before going on to work for the fledgling SNS project, at the time based at the IPNS Facility in Chicago, USA. After a second postdoc at the ISIS Facility in the UK, he returned to the US, working first as a staff scientist at the APS synchrotron and then moving to Washington DC to lead the neutron activities of the Geophysical Laboratory (GL). During his time at GL, he worked closely with the SNS Facility and made substantial contributions to operations at the SNAP high-pressure beamline. Most notably, he lead the programme to develop powder neutron diffraction in diamond-anvil cells at pressures approaching 100 GPa. In 2014, he moved to Sweden to work for the European Spallation Source (ESS) where he aims to help realise the enormous potential of this bright new source for high-pressure neutron science.

Ehime University, Matsuyama, Ehime, Japan

Tetsuo Irifune

Tetsuo IRIFUNE received BSc in geophysics at Kyoto Univ., MSc in mineral physics at Nagoya Univ., PhD in mineralogy and petrology at Hokkaido Univ., and spent a few years at the RSES of Australian National Univ. as a post-doctoral fellow.
He has been the director and professor of Geodynamics Research Center of Ehime Univ. since it was founded in 2001. He is an expert in high-pressure mineral physics using multianvil apparatus, and has been focusing his study on the technical developments and applications of in situ synchrotron X-ray observations to the measurements of phase transitions and the densities/sound velocities of high-pressure minerals over the last 20 years.
He also succeeded to synthesize ultra-hard nano-polycrystalline diamond by direct conversion from graphite using large-volume multianvil apparatus, which is now used as anvils for various types of high-pressure devices, particularly for high-pressure X-ray absorption studies. He is keen to apply the multianvil technique to the synthesis of novel ultra-hard materials and transparent ceramics.


California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA


Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland

Université Claude Bernard, Lyon, France

Denis Machon

Denis Machon has completed his PhD at the age of 26 years from Grenoble INP and postdoctoral studies from University College of London. During these years, he worked on pressure-induced amorphisation and polyamorphism both on the experimental and theoretical aspects. He is now professor assistant at University Lyon 1. His research interests are centered on high-pressure physics, thermodynamics and phase transitions. His current research activities are dedicated to the understanding of the combined effects of pressure, size and interface in the phase stability. He also teaches a course dedicated to scientific method and intellectual tools to build up one’s critical mind. Interested in Neurosciences, he develops some active educational methods.

Stanford University and SLAC, Menlo Park, CA, USA

Wendy Mao

Wendy Mao eceived her Ph.D. in 2005 from the University of Chicago, and then spend two years as a J. R. Oppenheimer fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory. She has been a faculty member with a joint appointment in Geological Sciences at Stanford University and Photon Science at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory since 2007. Wendy’s research focuses on the behavior of materials under extreme conditions. She uses diamond anvil cells to compress samples to high pressures and studies the dramatic changes that are induced using a suite of laboratory and synchrotron radiation techniques. Her work has application to understanding Earth and planetary interiors and developing new energy-related materials.

Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and Informatics,
Bratislava, Slovakia

Roman Martonak

Roman Martonak obtained his PhD in Condensed Matter Theory at SISSA, Trieste and afterwards worked at Johannes-Gutenberg University in Mainz, Max-Planck Institute for Condensed Matter Research in Stuttgart and ETH Zurich. He is now professor of Physics at the Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and Informatics of the Comenius University in Bratislava. His long-term interests are applications of computer simulations in statistical mechanics of condensed matter systems. He is one of the authors of the metadynamics-based approach for simulation of structural phase transitions in crystals. Recently he focuses on study of pressure-induced structural transformations in crystalline and amorphous solids and liquids by ab initio molecular dynamics and metadynamics.

ANSTO, Lucas Heights, Australia

Helen Maynard-Casely

Helen Maynard-Casely is a planetary scientist based at the Bragg Institute, ANSTO, where she investigates materials relevant to the surface of the icy moons, including Europa and Titan. Her journey to exploring these icy moons began with her degree in Planetary Sciences from University College London, and was followed by her PhD in high-pressure physics at the University of Edinburgh. Moving to Australia first to undertake a post-doctoral position at the Australian Synchrotron, she continued on to the Bragg Institute of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation in 2013 to work on the High Intensity Powder Diffractometer (known as WOMBAT). When not working on WOMBAT, Helen also promotes science to as wide an audience as possible, with skills in this area honed whilst working as the Christmas Lecturer's researcher for the Royal Institution of Great Britain. She currently also writes "The shores of Titan" column for The Conversation.

The University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Malcolm McMahon

Malcolm is Professor of High Pressure Physics at the University of Edinburgh, deputy-Director of the University's Centre for Science for Extreme Conditions, and head of the Institute of Condensed Matter and Complex Systems in the School of Physics & Astronomy. He also holds a William Penney Fellowship with AWE ALdermaston. Malcolm's research interests are in using x-ray diffraction and scattering to investigate the behaviour of simple materials to extreme pressures and temperature. He is a frequent user of synchrotron light sources in the UK, Europe and the US, where he and his colleagues have developed techniques to collect and analyse diffraction data from both polycrystalline and single-crystal samples. Most recently, his research interests have moved to the use of dynamic compression techniques, utilising powerful laser sources and x-ray free electron lasers to push structural studies of matter beyond the current limits of static compression science. When not working in his office, lab or at central facilities, Malcolm can be found on the golf course.

Stony Brook University, New York, NY, USA

John B. Parise

John Parise is a mineralogical crystallographer and Solid State Chemistry with joint appointments at Stony Brook University (SBU) and Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) on Long Island, New York. His research interests include exploratory high-pressure materials synthesis, aided by theoretical and in-situ x-ray and neutron scattering. In 2012 he was appointed Director of the Joint Photon Sciences Institute, an SBU-BNL initiative to promote education, training and research at BNL's National Synchrotron Light Source-II.

The University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Simon Parsons

Simon Parsons is Professor of Crystallography in the School of Chemistry and a member of The Centre for Science at Extreme Conditions at The University of Edinburgh.
His interests include extreme conditions research, crystal growth (from liquids and gases) of very small molecular compounds and development of methods to tackle problems such as twinning and absolute structure determination. He is particularly interested in using semi-empirical methods (such as the PIXEL method) for calculation of intermolecular interaction energies with the aim of gaining insight into the factors which drive and influence phase transformations, and has recently applied the PIXEL approach to metal-containing materials.
He has also shown that high pressure is a powerful means for studying structure-property relationships in large molecule-based magnets, work for which strong links with central facilities has proved vital.

ESRF, Grenoble, France

Sakura Pascarelli

Sakura Pascarelli received a Laurea in Physics at the University La Sapienza (Rome, Italy) and a PhD degree in Physics at the University Joseph Fourier (Grenoble, France). She has been involved with synchrotron radiation instrumentation and research for the last 25 years. Her research today deals with studies on matter at extreme conditions of pressure, temperature and magnetic fields using principally X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy and X-ray Magnetic Linear and Circular Dichroism. She is presently Head of the Matter at Extremes Group within the Experiment Division of the ESRF and also scientist in charge of the x-ray absorption spectroscopy beamlines BM23 and ID24.

The University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
and Univ. Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France

Chrystele Sanloup

Short CV: PhD at the Ecole Normale Superieure de Lyon (France), Carnegie Fellow at the Geophysical Laboratory in Washington D.C. (USA), and currently Professor at the University Pierre and Marie Curie, Institute of Earth Sciences in Paris (ISTeP), and visiting professor at the University of Edinburgh (UK), School of Physics. My interest in the properties of liquids at high pressure started during my PhD with the study of molten Fe and Fe-alloys in the perspective to better constrain the chemical composition of the Earth's core. Since then, the advancement in synchrotron x-ray-based techniques have allowed us to study lighter amorphous and molten materials, and simultaneously extend the P-range to the megabar. The range of properties that can be measured in situ using X-rays are the short-range order (local structure), the density, and the viscosity though in a restricted P-range for the latter. In the course of the last 10 years, we have been studying liquid water, amorphous sulphur, and lately magmas at depth. Those are chemically much more complex materials, and other issues must be solved such as the local structure around elements present in minor amounts but potentially key to understanding some physical properties.

Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

The webpages for the 2015 Course (concluded last 14 June) can be found here.

Previous Schools

2015 • 48th Course
Engineering Crystallography: from Molecule to Crystal to Functional Form
Directors: Kevin Roberts · Rui Tamura · Robert Docherty

2014 • 47th Course
Structural Basis of Pharmacology: Deeper Understanding of Drug Discovery through Crystallography
Directors: Eddy Arnold · Robert Stroud · Richard Pauptit · Giovanna Scapin

2013 • 46th Course
The Future of Dynamic Structural Science
Directors: Judith A.K. Howard · Paul R. Raithby · Andrei V. Churakov

Future Schools

2017 • 50th Course
Integrative Macromolecular Crystallography

2018 • 51st Course
Electron Crystallography

2018 • 52nd Course
Quantum Crystallography

2019 • 53rd Course
Magnetic Crystallography