History of the Institute


The institute of Crystallography at the RWTH Aachen was established in 1963 with the appointment of Theo Hahn as a professor. The initiative came from Professor Doris Schachner (Institute of Mineralogy and Economic Geology, RWTH) and resulted in a creation of the first crystalographic institute in the field of geosciences in Germany. At the RWTH, that is a technical university, mining, metallurgy, and geosciences are together in the Faculty of Georesources and Materials Engineering.

Traditionally, research and teaching at the Institute are focused on:

  • structure analysis and crystal chemistry
  • crystal physics and crystal growth
  • applied mineralogy and crystallography

The Institute of Crystallography is best known internationally owing to the activities of Professor Theo Hahn as an editor of the International tables for Crystallography (Vol. A: Space-Group Symmetry).

Research themes developed at the Institute:

  • Professor Theo Hahn (Professor Emeritus in 1993, died in 2016) worked on cement minerals, Li- and Al-containing silicates, tetrahedral framework structures, twinning, and crystal symmetry.
  • Professor Walter Eysel (moved to Heidelberg in 1980, died in 2000) studied crystal chemistry and polymorphism of cement minerals as well as oxides with tetrahedral building blocks.
  • Professor Eduard Woermann (retired in 1994, died in 2008) focused his research on phase equilibria in complex oxides.
  • Professor Helmut Klapper (retired in 2002) established a laboratory for single-crystal growth as well as for x-ray topography and optical microscopy to study crystal defects and twinning.
  • Professor Heinrich Arnold (retired in 1995) studied structural phase transitions. His interest in the use of synchrotron radiation resulted in a construction of powder diffraction beamlines in HASYLAB.
  • Professor Götz Eckold (moved to Göttingen in 1996) was involved in studies of phase transitions using inelastic and quasielastic neutron scattering. He constructed a three-axis spectrometer UNIDAS at the reactor DIDO in the Research Centre in Jülich.
  • Professor Gernot Heger (retired in 2009), as Prof. Hahn’s successor, further developed experimental crystallographic methods at the Institute, with a special emphasis on neutron scattering at the outstations in Jülich, Saclay, and Munich.
  • Professor Georg Roth (since 1996 at the RWTH, a successor of Prof. Woermann’s) was until July 31st, 2020 the director of the Institute after Prof. Heger’s retirement. He was involved in single-crystal diffraction using x-ray and neutron radiation, development of neutron instrumentations as well as in studies of properties in modern functional materials.
  • PD Lars Peters has headed the Institute for Crystallography as a deputy chair since August 1st, 2020. His field of work concerns the structure-property relationships in modern functional materials, in particular investigations of the immobilization of actinides by means of incorporation into solid phases relevant to final disposal.