Monthly Archives: October 2014

Get Ready for Chapter Three!

Hello everyone,

the upcoming chapter is all about symmetry. We will start with the symmetries that can be found in everyday objects. For example, you will investigate the symmetry elements of the queen of clubs or a boomerang.

You will then learn how to classify crystals into their respective classes. We have prepared a small poster, so you can keep track of your very own collection of crystals.

Furthermore, we want to begin to talk about translational symmetry. This symmetry is a particular feature of crystal structures with their repetitive patterns. However, we will go easy with you and explain it with an imaginary walk on a beach and look at drawings of the famous artist M.C. Escher.

We hope that you are curious, how our crystallographic journey continues.

Apart from the P2P homework concerning crystal classes there are two further optional assignments. Feel free to discuss them with your classmates in the forum or within your learning groups. The first one can be found in Unit 3.4 (on the last slide) and the other one in Unit 3.7 (on slide 13).

Finally, we want to mention that the deadline for an upgrade to the Certificate Track was extended by one further week, so you can still decide to choose this track until the 6th of November.

See you in class!

Michael & Frank



PS: You may also like us on facebook:


Chapter 2 released

Welcome to Chapter 2 of our Crystal MOOC!

We will start with a virtual flight through the Mineralogical Museum of the University of Hamburg, will discuss the outer shapes of crystals, Miller indices, the Bravais lattices, and fractional coordinates. Furthermore, we introduce VESTA, an incredible piece of software (freeware), which allows you to analyze crystal structures, to build your own crystals structures and crystal shapes!

Peer-to-Peer Homework and Optional Assignment
With the beginning of this chapter you are invited to take part in the first P2P assignment. You will find an explanation how this works on the frontpage of the Homework unit (‘How Does Evaluation Work’).

The due dates for the P2P homework “Miller Indices” are as follows:
Submission Deadline: 07.11.2014, 23:59 (CET, Berlin)
Evaluation Deadline: 14.11.2014, 23.59 (CET, Berlin).
In addition to the P2P homework there is a further optional task (in Unit 2.4), which you can discuss within your learning groups or also in the discussion forum. The solution will be made available later during the course.

In general, we would like to encourage you to use the forum: tell your classmates about your interest in crystals, discuss topics with your peers, ask questions, look for interesting links and post them or perhaps even arrange a local meetup with others! Don’t be shy! 🙂

Certificate Track
For those of you, who decided to choose the Certificate Track (you still have one week to upgrade from the Audit Free Track) there will be a final online proctored exam in form of an extended multiple choice test. This exam will be activated two weeks after the release of the last chapter, i.e. at the 11th of December, and you can participate at the latest until the 19th of December.

Crystal MOOC’s flickr page
We have created a flickr account for the Crystal MOOC community! The idea is, that we build together a beautiful collection of photos, dedicated to specific crystallographic topics, which will then be categorized in albums. In Unit 2.7 you are asked to upload photos/screenshots of crystal structures and shapes you created with VESTA.

The flickr page can be found at:

You can upload a photo to this page by sending an eMail with the picture attached

The subject of the mail serves automatically as the title and the body as the description of the picture (please indicate your name here).

Have a nice week!

kind regards
Michael and Frank

Welcome to the 2nd run of our Crystal MOOC / First Chapter released

Dear Students,

we would like to welcome all of you who have signed up to the second run of our course, which just started today with the activation of the first chapter.

Feel free to discuss questions concerning the content of the course in the forum with your classmates – we also will have a look into it from time to time.

Best wishes!
Frank and Michael




You can find a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) concerning our course at:


You may also join our Crystal MOOC facebook page at:


Preview Chapter of our Course live

We are happy to announce that the first five units of our course are accessible from now on as a preview!

Apart from a short note about the intention of this course from our side you

  • can watch a video in which the manufacturing process of huge single-crystals of silicon is explained;
  • can learn why an electric lighter is called an electric lighter (in case you didn’t know that already 🙂
  • can have a look at an experiment carried out just with words in a crystallographic context, and
  • you can explore symmetry elements in a particular beautiful photograph of a tilework called “Azulejo” from Seville (Spain).

You can find the first unit of the preview chapter here.

See you soon!

Michael and Frank

#196 – update

#196 – update


Tomas, one of our readers of this blog, identified an error concerning the space group list project. As he correctly pointed out, the entry of #196 (F23) was wrong as the coordinate set of the solvent free zink  sulfate clearly shows F-43m symmetry (#216).

I have informed the FIZ Karlsruhe and they will delete this wrong entry in their ICSD database with the next update/release.

So, the new (approved) entry for #196 is:
tetrakis((18-Crown-6)-thallium) tetrachloro-manganese bis(tetrachloro-thallium)
Coordination Characteristics of Divalent Tetrahedral (Td and D2d) Tetrahalometalate Anions of 3d Elements and Solid-State 18C6 Reorientations
N.S. Fender, S.S. Finegan, D. Miller. M. Mitchell, I.A. Kahwa, F.R. Fronczek
Inorg. Chem., 1994, 33 (18), pp 4002–4008

MnCl4 tetrahedra (purple)
TlCl4 tetrahedra (blue)


Also the poster of the Space group list project was updated, which you can download here: