OpenLab: a specific action targeting developing countries

By . Published on 23 August 2016 in:
News, November 2015, , , , ,

The OpenLab was initiated by the International Union of Crystallography and UNESCO. It is one of the most successful recent initiatives in the development of physics in developing countries.

OpenLab initiative
OpenLab initiative

This initiative was launched in the framework of the International Year of Crystallography. It was made possible due to the strong involvement of Claude LECOMTE, deputy chairman of the International Union of Crystallography [IUCr] and the partnership of dedicated sponsors, generally manufacturers of equipment for crystallography such Agilent, Antonpaar,  Brucker, Dectris, Incoatec, Oxford Cryosystems, PANalytical, Rigoku,  STOE, Xenocs.

The OpenLab initiative was designed for either:
1 – Provide second hand equipment that was donated and refurbished by the manufacturer. The donation was supported by a two week training course, either experimental or theoretical (for structure modelling) and use of the crystallographic data base. In addition some other basic requirements, the university that received the material was asked to establish a permanent position for an assistant professor and invest around 10000 £ in basic equipment for crystallography.
2- Organise a travelling laboratory that provided a portable instrument for training in either experimental or theoretical (for structure modelling) fields and use of the crystallographic data base. It was also possible for the trainees to analyse their own samples. This was the first time for many local scientists to be able to directly analyse their samples.
A specific “Initiative for Africa” was also organised (Congo, Zimbabwe, Cameroon and Ivory Coast).
Countries Associated to the OpenLab initiative (emerging and developing):  
•    OpenLabs type 1: Uruguay, Ivory Coast, Cambodia
•    OpenLabs type 2: Algeria, Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Argentina, Mexico, Uruguay, Colombia, India, Pakistan, Senegal, Tunisia, Turkey, Vietnam, China (Hong-Kong) and Kazakhstan.
•    Travelling Labs: Morocco, Gabon
This initiative will also result in the first Pan-African conference on crystallography to be held at Dschang University in Cameroon in November 2016.

Further reading and complementary information:
An article authored by Claude LECOMTE was also published in the journal of the French Physical Society “Reflets de la Physique” (in French) available at the following link : This issue (July-August) is entirely dedicated to papers in the domain of crystallography.

Read previous post:
3D Printing for development an initiative of the EPS Physics for Development Group

The latest initiative of the Physics for Development group was to launch a program on 3D printing for science with the Cameroon Physical Society in cooperation with Paul Woafo (head of the physics department at Yaoundé 1 University), the founder of the Cameroon Physical Society and its first president. The main goal of this project was to improve the availability of laboratory equipment for use in university, especially for optics accessories. Nowadays taking advantage of the open source availability of 3D design of laboratory equipment it is possible to improve the situation in many universities in which workshops are scarce or not available at all.  Through a close cooperation with the Scientific Fab Lab of ICTP (Trieste) a physicist of Yaoundé University Mr Nana Bonaventure was trained for three months and two 3D printer kits with spare parts were sent to him. He was able to build the two 3D printers and to print different objects.