Introduction to crystallography and crystal symmetries / Practical work at the UAC.

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Brève description du programme de vulgarisation scientifique à l'UAC, Bénin

Thanks to an agreement between X-TechLab and the Department of Chemistry of the University of Abomey Calavi (UAC), a training programme entitled "Introduction to Crystallography and Crystal Symmetry" was carried out in July 2020. The objective was to provide participants with the skills that will enable them to better understand the theoretical courses they have taken in inorganic chemistry (crystal lattice, unit cell, crystal systems, sodium chloride unit cell) and the symmetry operations they will study in crystallography during their undergraduate degree course. The training was entirely practical and was carried out in the form of hands-on work.

The audience was the undergraduate students from the Faculty of Science and Technology, those who are in the 1st and 2nd level in the field of Physics & Chemistry (PC). The age range is approximately 18 to 22 years old and all of them are the university students. The program has reached over a thousand students, 1084 precisely. The organising committee is composed of X-TechLab team and some Lecturers and Assistants from the university.

During the tutorials, students studied the basics of the crystal lattice, including topics such as translations and inversions. First the participants built their own patterns following a guideline, then they used the pattern to pave a plane using translation and inversion as symmetry operations (crystallographic groups P1 and P2) to obtain wallpapers. In addition, some of them built single crystal cells from recycled materials (old cardboard). These unit cells were used by the instructors to show the students how the crystal lattice is constructed by repetitive translation of the elementary cell along its main axes. At the end, the students submitted reports of their work for grading. The reports were graded by the organising committee using a score (S) ranging from 0 to 20. The statistics of the grids are presented in the table below.

Students level

Class size

Students with S < 10

Students with S ≥ 10



–     (or 0%)

648 (or 100%)



35 (or 8.03%)

401 (or 91.97%)



35 (or 3.23%)

1049 (or 96.77%)

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