FIZ Karlsruhe’s Crystal Structure Depot

The safe for inorganic crystal structures

Crystal structures mentioned in scientific publications are stored in FIZ Karlsruhe’s crystal structure depot which serves as a source of information for scientists who want to learn more about these crystals. The depot was established because its developers had realized that many publications were lacking important information on crystal structures.


Many renowned journals in the field of crystallography expressly invite their authors to deposit their published crystals structures with FIZ Karlsruhe. However, scientists may also use our crystal structure depot for data that have not been published. Thus, more than 1,500 structures are added to the depot each year, their total number currently amounting to about 28,000.


The deposited structure data are fully defined and contain the name (if any), bibliographic references (for published structures) and all relevant parameters of the unit cell.


Upon deposition, FIZ Karlsruhe assigns a CSD (Crystal Structure Depot) number to each fully defined structure for later reference in the publication. The data can then be ordered free of charge from the Crystal Structure Depot at FIZ Karlsruhe by quoting their CSD number.

Standards yesterday and today

The depot was established about 30 years ago, i.e., already before FIZ Karlsruhe’s Inorganic Crystal Structure Database (ICSD) was produced. In the beginning the deposition criteria were not clearly defined, so that both organic and inorganic crystal structures were deposited. Most entries contained information from German journals. The data were not standardized yet. Most structure data were sent on paper, in some cases even with additions made in handwriting. These data are still stored in FIZ Karlsruhe’s archive.


A lot has changed over time. Today, all structure data are transferred electronically and deposited in a standardized format; only inorganic crystal structures are accepted.  The standard format is CIF (Crystallographic Information File) developed by the International Union of Crystallography (IUCr).


The crystal depot not only serves as a crystal structure depository, but also as a source of information: each year about one thousand sets of data are retrieved by interested persons.


FIZ Karlsruhe as an independent and neutral institution warrants that scientific research data are collected and, in turn, made available to scientists and the interested public free of charge and at any time.

Would you like to know how to use the crystal structure depot? Contact us for more  information! We will be pleased to help you!