Amber L. Thompson

Dec 202009
A picture of Seizure


A dreary, grey, condemned, 1960s low-rise council flat is an unusual place to find one of the most beautiful pieces of crystallographic art in the UK.  “Seizure” was constructed by transforming the flat into a watertight tank, into which 70,000 litres of hot copper sulphate solution was poured.  After three weeks of patient waiting, and cooling, the mother liquor was removed to reveal a spellbinding, blue, crystal garden. Fortunate visitors to this spectacular exhibit were entranced to behold a magical kingdom of exquisite azure crystals – everyday objects such as light fittings and baths transformed into coruscations of brilliance…



Oct 302009

Inorg. Chim. Acta  (2010), 363(6), 1140-1149.    [ doi:10.1016/j.ica.2009.10.020 ]

Four 2-acetylpyridine 4N-alkyl thiosemicarbazones, and their Ga(III) and In(III) complexes have been prepared and characterised by fluorescence, UV–Vis, IR, 1H and 13C NMR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry and X-ray crystallographic analysis. Comparison of the crystal structures gave an insight into the nature of the complexes formed, demonstrating a preference for [ML2]+ type complexes with gallium and [MLX3] species with indium. Stability studies on two candidates indicated that complex [InL3Cl2MeOH] was stable to chemical degradation for prolonged periods in human serum, giving this complex potential for further biological evaluation.

Electronic reprints

  • Oxford University Research Archive [direct pdf]

Publisher’s copy


Thiosemicarbazone overlay

Overlay of two thiosemicarbazone ligands showing two different conformations.

Oct 072009

The Nobel prize for chemistry has been jointly awarded to Venkatraman Ramakrishnan (MRC Cambridge), Thomas Steitz (Yale) and Ada Yonath (Weizmann Institute, Israel) for their work determining the structure of ribosomes.  The ribosome is an important component of cells that assembles proteins from amino acids.  It is often referred to as “the protein factory”.  This is the second Nobel prize to be awarded for work on ribosomes as Albert Claude, Christian de Duve and George Emil Palade were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine, in 1974 for their discovery.


  • Announcement of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry [video]
  • BBC News Online [Report]


Picture of the structure and shape of the E.coli 70S ribosome.

Structure and shape of the E.coli 70S ribosome.


Aug 212009

The 25th European Crystallographic Meeting was held in the Harbiye Museum and Cultural Centre in the beautiful city of Istanbul.  It was a very eventful week, and contributions to the conference made by Chem. Cryst. include:

N. David Brown, James Haestier, Mustapha Sadki, Amber L. Thompson & David J. Watkin
A Further Improved Structure Matching Algorithm (Poster)

James Haestier
Handling of Cell Errors and their Effect on Derived Parameters (Poster)

Mustapha Sadki
New Modelling for Disordered Atoms in Free-form Based Hybrid Refinement and Visual Representation

Mustapha Sadki
The Application of Novel Modelling and Refinement Strategies to Crystallography

Amber L. Thompson & David J. Watkin
Absolute Configuration Determination – Is there More Information in the Data? (Poster)

David J. Watkin, Richard I. Cooper & Amber L. Thompson
CRYSTALS:  Refinement and Validation Tools (Poster)

David Watkin
The Future of Small Molecule Software (Session Chair)

Aug 212009

Dr. Jeppe ChristensenJeppe’s specialist areas are crystallographic instrumentation, experiment design, weak diffraction, twinning and modulation. He is also very knowledgeable about software and the theoretical basis of crystallography. Formerly beamline manager at the Swedish synchrotron facility MAX IV Laboratory, where he operated the small molecule and powder diffraction beamline, Jeppe is currently Research Officer in the Dynamical Structural Science group at the Research Complex at Harwell where he is involved in the development of time resolved crystallography.

Apr 212009

The 2009 British Crystallographic Association Spring Meeting was held at the University of Loughborough.  Contributions from Chem. Cryst. included:

N. David Brown, James Haestier, Mustapha Sadki, David J. Watkin & Amber L. Thompson
A Further Improved Structure Matching Algorithm (Poster)

James Haestier
Effects of Cell Errors on Derived Parameters
(YC Presentation)

James Haestier
Computation of Cell Errors Effects on Derived Parameters

Mustapha Sadki & David J. Watkin
New Framework for Reliable Refinement Data Types (Presentation)

Apr 012009
David Watkin gives the Lonsdale Lecture

David Watkin gives the Lonsdale Lecture

Every two years, the Young Crystallographers Group of the British Crystallographic Association nominate a speaker to give the prestigious Kathleen Lonsdale Lecture. Traditionally, they invite well respected scientist who has a good rapport with students. This year the Lonsdale Lecturer was David Watkin who is well known within the community, principally as a result of his involvement with the highly respected refinement software CRYSTALS, developed in Oxford and through the BCA biannual teaching school which he co-founded twenty-five years ago.

Apr 012009
Presentation to mark David Watkin becoming Honorary Member of the BCA

Presentation to mark David Watkin becoming Honorary Member of the BCA

David Watkin has been elected as Honorary Member of the British Crystallographic Association for his outstanding services to the organisation and crystallography as a whole. The award was made in particular recognition of his role as a teacher, in both the UK and worldwide. The presentation was made at the annual meeting of the BCA which was held at the end of April at Loughborough University.


Feb 162009

Dr. Kirsten E. ChristensenKirsten has been a visiting scientist in the lab since February 2009. She spends one to two days in Oxford doing synthesis of Open-framework germanates and taking a keen interest in difficult structures.  Kirsten’s primary research interest is in “Crystallography on the edge”, studying superstructures, diffuse scattering and modulated structures. As a natural part of being a post doc at Diamond she also takes an enthusiastic interest in collecting data on small and challenging crystals. Kirsten is also local contact when the Oxford BAG goes to Diamond for beamtime on I19.

Dec 152008

Acta Cryst. (2008), C64, o649-o652.    [ doi:10.1107/S0108270108037086 ]

The absolute and relative configurations of 1-epialexine are established by X-ray crystallographic analysis, giving (1S,2R,3R,7S,7aS)-1,2,7-trihydroxy-3-(hydroxymethyl)pyrrolizidine. The compound crystallizes as the hemihydrate C8H15NO4·0.5H2O, with hydrogen bonds holding the water molecule in a hydrophilic pocket between epialexine bilayers. In addition, a comparison was made between results obtained from examination of the Bijvoet pairs from data sets collected using molybdenum and copper radiation.