Project Details Basic Terminology of Crystal Engineering

Project No.:
Start Date:
01 February 2013
End Date:


The objectives of this project are

  1. to produce guidelines for terminology (glossary of terms) in the area of crystal engineering,
  2. to ensure that these guidelines are accepted by a large group of leading researchers in the field, and
  3. to have these guidelines implemented or referred to in the instructions to authors of leading crystal engineering journals.


Crystal engineering is the design and synthesis of functional crystalline structures, based on a bottom-up approach from smaller building blocks. Crystal engineering is a fascinating and new subject that has expanded rapidly the last 20 years, and is also attracting the interest of the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. It has strong overlap with supramolecular chemistry, X-ray crystallography, materials science, and solid-state chemistry and yet it is a distinct discipline in itself. The subject goes beyond the traditional divisions of organic, inorganic, and physical chemistry, and this makes for a very eclectic blend of ideas, techniques and strategies.

The diversity in both focus and scientific basis of the researchers involved in the field has led to numerous terminology practices that are not consistent among research groups, causing much confusion and unnecessary conflicts.

The purpose and scope of this project is to provide a basic glossary of terms for this rapidly evolving, highly interdisciplinary field of crystal engineering, to identify and debate open questions, and to point out new directions.

This project will bring together a task force of scientists in the field with the objectives to:

  1. Document, analyze, and evaluate existing practices.
  2. Make preliminary suggestions for a limited number of terms (basic glossary of terms).
  3. Organize discussions of these recommendations with a large group of researchers in the area.
  4. Adjust and optimize preliminary findings in order to have highest possible acceptance from the research community.
  5. Publish the final recommendations in PAC.
  6. Approach journal editors and publishers to have the recommendations included, or cited, in their guidelines for authors.


The project was kick started in Milan on June 6-7, 2013, when the Politecnico di Milano hosted the workshop “Past, Present, and Future of Crystallography@Politecnico di Milano: From Small Molecules to Macromolecules and Supramolecular Structures”.

May 2014 update – The Task Group secured a grant from ICSU and will proceed with a kick-off meeting held concurrently with the 1st International Symposium on Halogen Bonding (ISXB-1) in Porto Cesareo (Lecce, Italy) on 18-22 June 2014.

The Project will be advertised in major meetings relevant to related fields (e.g., the 23rd Congress and General Assembly of the International Union of Crystallography (IUCr) to be held in Montreal, Canada, in 5-12 August 2014).

On 31 August – 1 September 2015, an international workshop open to the public will be organized, for consideration of public comments, presentation, and dissemination of results; the workshop will be held in Como.


April 2015 update – The 2nd ICSU/IUPAC Workshop on Crystal Engineering will be held in Como, Italy on August 30 – September 1, 2015. The Chairs of the Workshop, Pierangelo Metrangolo and Giuseppe Resnati, invite you to participate to this memorable event.

This international workshop will also serve as mid-term meeting of the ICSU project CONvINCE “CONcepts and termINology in Crystal Engineering” and of this IUPAC project 2012-044-1-100 “Basic Terminology of Crystal Engineering“. The objectives of these projects are to produce guidelines for terminology in the area of crystal engineering.

The program of the workshop will comprise invited lectures by internationally renowned leaders in the field. Posters presentations are also scheduled and opportunities are planned for young scientists’ networking with both peers and recognized leaders in the field.

Participation is free and limited to a maximum number of 150 attendees, which will be selected on a first come first served basis. The deadline for registration and abstract submission is June 30, 2015.

For details, download workshop flyer [pdf] or visit

For information please contact the Scientific Secretariat: or the Organizing Secretariat:


October 2016 update – The task group created a list of 30 terms essential to crystal engineering and are working on the definitions. The group will meet in Milan around April 2017 to present the results to a panel of experts. As a joint project with IUCR, the project will also be presented to IUCR in a special symposium on crystal engineering at the IUCR meeting in 2017.


Aug 2017 update – The project was showcased in the special symposium MS-021: Terminology issues in crystal engineering at IUCr2017 on 23 Aug 2017.

June 2019 update – Project aims and results were discussed during the “International Workshop: Prospective Crystal Engineering”, which was held in Lecce, Italy on June 6-7, 2019. Several project members were attending the Workshop.

Sep 2019 update –  The proposed glossary now contains 30 terms, and new terms may be added from currently ongoing IUPAC projects, such as projects 2014-001-2-200 and 2016-001-2-300. Some terms have a critical importance, especially those involved in the pharmaceutical field as they may be relevant in patent litigations. For this reason, terms already defined by larger technical organization such as the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be adopted.

The project will be showcased at the two-day symposium Contemporary Crystal Engineering and Solid-State Chemistry, which will take place on October 23–24, 2019 in Rehovot, Israel.

Before the end of the year, the first draft of the recommendation will be prepared and shared with the core-group member first and then with the rest of the task group. This draft will also be shared and discussed with relevant people of the IUCr community. The final version of the recommendation will be presented at a workshop tentatively organized as a satellite to the 25th Congress and General Assembly of the International Union of Crystallography (IUCr2020) to be held in Prague, Czech Republic, from August 22-30, 2020. Workshop webpage:

Last update 3 Mar 2020