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The Computing for Science (CS) group supports ILL scientists, students and visitors in a number of activities including data analysis, instrument simulation and sample simulation.

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vDiffraction - a serious game about diffraction and crystals

This game is a fun way to discover the world of crystals and their symmetries through diffraction.

Crystals are all around us: in our environment (rocks and minerals, etc), in our bodies (sugar, bones, gallstones, etc.) and in technology (metals and alloys, silicon and quartz used for microelectronics, etc.). By successively discovering the diffraction of X-rays, neutrons and electrons, scientists in the twentieth century threw the door to the microscopic world wide open by demonstrating that crystals are made ​​up of atoms and molecules and explaining their structure.

Crystals are characterised by the fact that their constituents are arranged in a highly ordered structure. This internal order and its symmetry is clearly visible in the diffraction patterns produced by any crystal. It is this symmetry which is also gives crystals their often amazing shapes, making them highly prized by rockhounds.

Whether you are a senior scientist, a student, or just curious about science, vDiffraction is a serious game that will let you try your hand at crystal diffraction so that you can begin to understand how scientists identify the symmetry characteristics of a crystal. This is the first, crucial step towards understanding the atomic and molecular structure of a crystalline material, in other words what type of atoms and molecules make up the crystal and how they are organised.


A few facts about vDiffraction:


Questions and comments can be sent to the vDiffraction team:

vdiffraction (at)

If possible, please write in English or French. We can also accept comments in Italian, Spanish, German and Russian but we will take considerably longer to reply.

The team


  • FILHOL Alain (ILL)


  • IPPERSIEL Mathieu (Ipter)

Scientific contributions

  • CHAPUIS Gervais (Ecole Polytechnique, Lausanne)
  • GASPARD Jean-Pierre (Univ. de Liège-Tilman)

Ideas, advice, support, corrections

  • CORNUÉJOLS Dominique (ESRF)
  • DAVID Thibaud (CEA, Grenoble)
  • VAUQUOIS Françoise (ILL)

Version history

v0.9.26 - May 2015 - Added the English version.
v0.9 - Oct 2014 - This version is for the web only and is intended mainly for testing.
2014 - jDiffraction fully redesigned into a multi-platform serious game base on the VirtualGrip technology from Ipter.
2011 - Diffraction is ported to Java under the name jDiffraction.
2006 - Diffraction is improved and recompiled for OS X.
1994 - vDiffraction originates from Diffraction, an application developed for Mac OS Classic.