Biography - Václav Petříček

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Václav Petříček




Václav Petříček, Senior Scientist at the Institute of Physics of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, is the recipient of the ACA’s 2020 A. L. Patterson Award. This award is given “to recognize and encourage outstanding research in the structure of matter by diffraction methods, including the methodology of structure determination …” Over the course of his career, Václav’s research has made him the leader in the field of analysis of incommensurately modulated crystals. Through his work a good percentage of aperiodic crystals, the so-called incommensurately modulated structures, can now be determined with accuracy comparable to what one can achieve for ordinary periodic structures.

Václav has spent essentially his whole career at the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences as a researcher. A post-doctoral position with Philip Coppens at the State University of New York, Buffalo, helped shape the direction of his research. Until the seventies the existence of aperiodic crystals was considered rare but now it is known that incommensurate crystals occur in all kinds of materials. One of the breakthroughs that made the quantitative characterization of incommensurately modulated structure accessible to the wider community of crystallographers was the development of computational tools for the practical application of the theoretical superspace formalism to the analysis and determinations of incommensurate structures. It was Václav who developed the necessary tool that made a good theory work in practice, and this tool is the program JANA. Over 25 years he has continued to introduce many options which have made this computing system useful in solving periodic and aperiodic crystals. The latest version of JANA also supports powder diffraction data, simultaneous refinement against various data sets (powders, single crystals) and radiation sources (x rays, neutrons, electrons), Time-of-Flight neutron diffraction data and refinement of symmetry deformation modes.

Václav’s contribution is not restricted to a user-friendly, all-purpose computer program for structural analysis; he also proposed new scientific methods – such as saw-tooth functions and the refinement of magnetic structures against neutron powder diffraction data - and added them into JANA2006.

The pioneering practical approach to the superspace formalism and Václav’s development of appropriate computation tools for its application has been fundamental for the development of the field of aperiodic crystals. Indeed, the mature stage that the crystallography of aperiodic crystals has reached would be unthinkable without the existence of Václav’s program JANA.