The University of Wisconsin-Madison Chemistry Department’s Molecular Structure Laboratory specializes in X-ray diffraction to measure crystal structures. The lab has state-of-the-art facilities for powder diffraction and single-crystal diffraction. The lab’s faculty and staff can offer professional crystallographic advice and services to scientists within and outside of the University of Wisconsin.
The Molecular Structure Laboratory holds an annual Wisconsin Crystal Growing Competition for middle school and high school students. Starting in 2017, the Space Crystal Prize was added, giving the top competitors the chance to grow their crystals in microgravity aboard the International Space Station National Lab!
Winning students work with the Molecular Structure Laboratory and the Space Station Explorers team to translate their optimum growth conditions into flight-ready experiments. They’ll tackle the technical challenges of meeting flight requirements and design companion experiments to carry out on Earth. They’ll communicate their progress on social media throughout the year, and they’ll share their experience on launch day through a live stream from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
In 2017 and 2018 the competition is open to students in Wisconsin only, but there are plans to make it nationwide in future years. For Wisconsin students in middle and high school, the next competition runs March 1 to April 30, 2018.