Solving molecular crystal structures from laboratory X-ray powder diffraction data with DASH: the state of the art and challenges

A.J. Florence, N. Shankland, K. Shankland, W.I.F. David, E. Pidcock, X. Xu, A. Johnston, A.R. Kennedy, P.J. Cox, J.S.O. Evans, G. Steele, S.D. Cosgrove, C.S. Frampton

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The crystal structures of 35 molecular compounds have been redetermined from laboratory monochromatic capillary transmission X-ray powder diffraction data using the simulated-annealing approach embodied within the DASH structure solution package. The compounds represent industrially relevant areas (pharmaceuticals; metal coordination compounds; nonlinear optical materials; dyes) in which the research groups in this multi-centre study are active. The molecules were specifically selected to form a series within which the degree of structural complexity (i.e. degrees of freedom in the global optimization) increased systematically, the degrees of freedom increasing with increasing number of optimizable torsion angles in the structural model and with the inclusion of positional disorder or multiple fragments (counterions; crystallization solvent; Z' > 1). At the lower end of the complexity scale, the structure was solved with excellent reproducibility and high accuracy. At the opposite end of the scale, the more complex search space offered a significant challenge to the global optimization procedure and it was demonstrated that the inclusion of modal torsional constraints, derived from the Cambridge Structural Database, offered significant benefits in terms of increasing the frequency of successful structure solution by restricting the magnitude of the search space in the global optimization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-259
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Crystallography
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2005


  • crystal structures
  • molecular compounds
  • X-ray powder diffraction
  • DASH
  • crystallization solvent
  • modal torsional constraints


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