Crystallography in Croatia


Written by Stanko Popović

Crystallography in Croatia began with courses in mineralogy in the last decades of the 19th century. M. Paić used powder diffraction in his PhD studies at the Sorbonne in Paris in the 1930’s. In 1946, as the Head of the Physics Dept. of the Zagreb University, he continued research in crystallography. D. Grdenić studied crystal structures of mercury compounds by single crystal XRD in Moscow in 1946-48 with A.I. Kitaigorodskii. In 1948, he founded X-ray crystal structure analysis in Zagreb. Soon a group of talented younger crystallographers (K. Kranjc, S. Šćavničar, A. Bonefačić, A. Bezjak, B. Kamenar, B. Matković, Z. Ban, M. Sikirica, M. Topić, B. Kojić-Prodić, S. Popović) began studying crystal structures and microstructures.

In 1966, the crystallographers in the former Yugoslavia established the Yugoslav Centre of Crystallography (YCCr), which acted under the auspices of the Yugoslav (now: Croatian) Academy of Sciences and Arts in Zagreb. D. Grdenić was elected President and B. Kamenar Secretary of the YCCr. That same year, YCCr joined the IUCr (7th Congress of IUCr in Moscow). Most of the members of YCCr performed their research in Croatia. From 1966 to 1991, annual crystallographic conferences were held in Yugoslavia, often organized by YCCr members from Croatia. The invited speakers at those conferences were eminent crystallographers from abroad [M. Nardelli, G. Allegra, M. Mammi, G. Gilli, D. Viterbo and L. Randaccio (Italy), A. Kálmán (Hungary), S. C. Abrahams (USA), I. Olovsson (Sweden), M. Porai Koshic and Y. Struchkov (USSR), J. Helliwell, C. K. Prout and Nobel laureate D. Hodgkin (UK)]. Six joint Italian-Yugoslav crystallographic conferences were organized in that period. Many crystallographers from Croatia were trained in prominent international laboratories. A number of scientists from other republics of the former Yugoslavia obtained MSc and PhD degrees in the Croatian capital, Zagreb.

In the seventies and eighties, the laboratories in Zagreb were equipped with modern instruments for XRD, TEM and associated methods, enabling research of crystal structures of inorganic, organometallic and organic compounds, as well as microstructure at ambient and elevated temperature. YCCr published a journal, the Annual of the Yugoslav Centre of Crystallography, containing (in English) papers based on plenary lectures and abstracts of short contributions given at annual conferences, lists of publications of the YCCr members, titles of MSc and PhD theses of the YCCr members, and minutes of annual YCCr Assembly meetings. YCCr was also a member of the European Crystallographic Committee (ECC). B. Kamenar was the Vice-President and President of ECC in the period 1978 – 1984. Due to the war in Yugoslavia, the 13th European Crystallographic Meeting scheduled for Ljubljana, Slovenia, in 1991, was transferred to Trieste thanks to good relations among crystallographers in Italy (L. Randaccio), Croatia (B. Kamenar) and Slovenia (L. Golič). During ECM13, a plenary lecture was given by the Nobel laureate R. Huber (Germany), and a satellite meeting on Synchrotron radiation was organized.

After the desintegration of Yugoslavia and proclamation of independence of Croatia in 1991, the Presidency of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (CASA), dissolved the YCCr and, following the suggestion of the advisory board (B. Kamenar, B. Kojić Prodić, S. Popović, B. Gržeta) and the unanimous support of all crystallographers in Croatia, founded the Croatian Crystallographic Association (CCA) on February 28th, 1992. B. Kamenar was elected President and S. Popović Secretary of the CCA. The CCA joined the European Crystallographic Association (ECA) in 1992 (ECM14 in Enschede) and the IUCr (16th Congress of IUCr in Beijing) in 1993.

Since 1992, CCA and the Slovenian Crystallographic Society (SCC) have been organizing annual joint Meetings with international participation, alternately in Slovenia and in Croatia. Twenty three meetings have been organized so far. The reports on the meetings can be found in the IUCr Newsletter. Invited speakers at the Meetings have been, among others, C. Giacovazzo and G. Zanotti (Italy), M. Kaftory (Israel), I. Hargittai (Hungary), M. Jaskólski (Poland), W. Duax (USA), H. Flack, N. Ban (Switzerland), P. Naumov (Japan), R. Dinnebier, H. Fuess (Germany), B. Kobe (Australia), E. and G. Dodson (UK), and E. Tillmanns (Austria). Papers based on plenary lectures are published in Croatica Chemica Acta (meetings held in Croatia) and Acta Chimica Slovenica (meetings held in Slovenia). Members of CCA edited a special issue of Croatica Chemica Acta, Vol. 82 (2009), a Festschrift dedicated to D. Grdenić, on his 90th birthday.

Following the invitation of the Editorial Board of IUCr Newsletter, an extended paper on the history, activities and achievements of CCA has been published in IUCr Newsletter, 19 (2011) pp. 5, 7, 9,11, 14-18), as the first paper on crystallography in 14 South-East European countries.

The CCA has about one hundred members, conducting research in a number of laboratories in departments of universities, scientific institutes and industry. The Croatian crystallographers study biologically active molecules, proteins, organometallic compounds, pharmaceuticals, microstructure of composites and its relation to physical, chemical and biological properties. D. Balzar was a member of the IUCr Commission on Powder Diffraction, B. Kojić Prodić is a Co-editor of Acta Cryst C, and S. Popović was a member of the EPDIC Committee. The members of the Executive Committee of Crystallography, elected by the Assembly of the Croatian Crystallographic Association on September 27, 2012, for the period of three years, are: Stanko Popović, Chair, Dubravka Matković Čalogović, Vice-Chair, Marija Luić, Secretary,  Mario Cetina, Marijana Đaković, Ana Šantić, Darko Tibljaš, Antun Tonejc and Aleksandar Višnjevac.

One of the most important days for CCA was August 27, 2011, when the Council of the ECA accepted the bid presented by the representatives of CCA and decided, by a great majority of votes, that the 29th European Crystallographic Meeting, ECM29, would be held in Rovinj, Croatia, in August 23–28, 2015. This represents a great recognition of crystallographic achievements in Croatia by the international scientific community. The Executive Committee of CCA elected the Organizing Committee of the ECM29 (chaired by Aleksandar Višnjevac) and the Croatian members of the Programme Committee (chaired by Nenad Ban). Marija Luić has been elected the Chair of the ECM29.

In meantime, the organization of ECM29 was undertaken by the Croatian Association of Crystallographers (CAC, chaired by Aleksandar Višnjevac, the secretary being Marijana Đaković), a group of crystallographers emerged from CCA, consisting mainly of the members of the previous Organizing Committee of the ECM29. The agency Globtour Event was chosen, among several agencies, as the PCO of the ECM29. The Agreement, concerning the organization of ECM29, between the CAC and PCO was signed. In order to provide financial support for all the necessary activities and promotion of ECM29, the CAC has prepared several project proposals and applied to various (local) authorities.

The CAC is in a permanent connection with the ECA Council and Executive Committee, giving regular progress reports on the advancement in organization of ECM29.

During 2013, the CCA and CAC prepared the programme of activities for the International Year of Crystallography, IYCr2014:

Contemporary Crystallography in Croatia, a scientific conference dealing with present studies and perspectives in the field, to be held in Zagreb, September 30, 2014; publishing the Proceedings of the Conference by CASA;

Hot Topics in Contemporary Crystallography, held in May 10–15, 2014, in Šibenik, Croatia, the workshop for young crystallographers, lecturers eminent European crystallographers;

23rd Slovenian-Croatian Crystallographic Meeting, held in June 18–22, 2014 in Slovenia;

– Popular lectures on Crystallography in scientific institutions (CASA, Universities) and professional societies in Croatia: Croatian Chemical/ Physical/ Biological/ Geological/ Pharmaceutical … Society;

– Postgraduate courses on contemporary crystallography;

English-Croatian Dictionary of Crystallography, Solid state physics and Materials science (1700 terms with short descriptions in Croatian), by S. Popović, A. Tonejc and M. Mihaljević, to be published in 2014 by the Institute of the Croatian Language and Linguistics;

Hundred years of Crystallography by B. Kojić Prodić and K. Molčanov, a review  in the Croatian journal Chemistry in  Industry 62 (2013) 247– 260;

Chemical Crystallography before X-ray Diffraction, by K. Molčanov and V. Stilinović, a review in Angewandte  Chemie Int. Ed. 53 (2014) 638–652;

Nikola Tesla, scientist and inventor discovery of X-rays,  by S. Popović, a review in Distinguished Croatian scientists in the world, Vol. VII, pp. 122 – 134 (in Croatian),  pp. 250 – 262 (in English),  Editor J. Herak, Publishers Croatian-American Society, Zagreb, and Croatian Heritage Foundation, Zagreb, 2014;

Crystallography in Croatia (in Croatian) by S. Popović,  a review  in the Croatian journal Chemistry in  Industry 63 (2014) 217–225;

– Promotion brochure Crystallography matters!, edited by IUCr and UNESCO, translated in Croatian by  S. Popović, published in the Croatian journal Chemistry in Industry 63 (2014) 217–225;

– Crystal-growing competition, organized by Ernest Meštrović, participants in competition are pupils in secondary schools, the valuable results of competition will be used for the moving exhibition throughout Croatia (museums, institutions, companies) and for the promotion of crystallography in Croatia;

– Popular lectures on Crystallography in secondary schools;

– Popular Crystallography: TV, radio, newspapers.


Stanko Popović, July 2014