The Laboratory of Crystallographic Studies (LEC) deals with various subjects concerning crystal nucleation and growth from dissolution. In both fundamental and applied science, the LEC´s
work covers the fields of the crystallization of macromolecules, drugs and minerals, the crystallography of such compounds, crystallization in microgravity, X-ray characterization of crystals, the formation of crystal patterns, biomimetic materials and biomineralization. The laboratory is very capable in all these fields and is an international reference in macromolecule crystallization and crystal growth in microgravity.
There are two quite distinct components in research on macromolecule and drug crystallization in the LEC. One focuses on the fundamental science of crystallization, studying the physics and
chemistry of mass transport processes, generation of oversaturation in dissolutions and crystal growth mechanisms on a nanoscopic scale, while the other centres on the development of
technology for crystallization, based on the counter-diffusion methods developed in the laboratory. Mineral growth is also studied with the aim of using the physical and chemical information resulting from crystallization processes to better understand the geological environment in which the crystals grew. Macromolecule and drug crystallography is a subject of rapidly increasing interest in the laboratory, with teams working on the resolution of particularly interesting structures as regards both their crystallization and their application in molecular
biology and pharmacology. X-ray diffraction is used for this purpose, as well as for the characterization of crystal quality by using high resolution techniques and image diffraction.
This all contributes to the laboratory´s wide experience in the use of synchrotron radiation. The laboratory is equally experienced in crystal growth in microgravity, having taken part in more
than 10 space missions and developed specific technology for this type of research. This same technology has been the most frequently used in microgravity throughout the world over the
last 5 years. Finally, and also as a result of in-depth understanding of the physics and chemistry of crystal nucleation and growth in dissolution, the LEC also works on the formation of
self-organized crystalline patterns, with special emphasis on the formation of patterns of
biological appearance and their implications for the origin of life and the detection of
The teaching and dissemination at all levels of crystallography and crystallization is a hallmark
of the LEC, taking the form of explanatory articles in the press and journals, participation in the
activities of the Science Park (Granada) and other centres of scientific information, as well as in collaborations with other groups specialized in the teaching of science.