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.


Web version

It is based on an OpenGL plugin that some modern browsers may forbid. Try it HERE. We are considering a webGL version if a funding can be found.

Standalone applications

Operating SystemInstaller downloadApplication Store  
macOSDownload the DMG (30 MB)App Store  
WindowsDownload (64 bits)Microsoft Store (not yet)  
Linux 64Download (Debian)Debian repository  
iOS App Store  
Android Google Play  


A few facts about vDiffraction:

  • its original version was for the web but modern browser no longer accept third party plugins. Thus vDiffraction is now distributed in the form of stansalone applicatons for macOS, Windows, Linux, iOS and soon Android.
  • it was developed by Ipter (now out of business) in the framework of UNESCO's 2014 International Year of Crystallography. The ILL and Yannick Raoul (freelance) continue the development.
  • it was funded by the ILL, iYCr, CEA, and ESRF.


Questions and comments can be sent to the vDiffraction team: vdiffraction (at) ill.eu

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

Project leader

  • FILHOL Alain (ILL)


  • IPPERSIEL Mathieu (IPTER, now out of business)
  • RAOUL Yannick (freelance)

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

v.1.0.0 - Jan-Feb 2018 - VirtualGrip is now 64 bits. Standalone versions of vDiffraction for macOS, iOS, Windows, Linux (Android not yet) are released.
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 was fully redesigned into a multi-platform serious game base on the VirtualGrip technology from Ipter (now out of business).
2011 - Diffraction.app was ported to Java under the name jDiffraction.
2006 - Diffraction.app was improved and recompiled for OS X.
1994 - vDiffraction originates from Diffraction.app, an application developed for Mac OS Classic.