• crystallography;
  • information theory;
  • inorganic structures;
  • structural complexity;
  • structural elucidation


The discovery of the diffraction of X-rays on crystals opened up a new era in our understanding of nature, leading to a multitude of striking discoveries about the structures and functions of matter on the atomic and molecular scales. Over the last hundred years, about 150 000 of inorganic crystal structures have been elucidated and visualized. The advent of new technologies, such as area detectors and synchrotron radiation, led to the solution of structures of unprecedented complexity. However, the very notion of structural complexity of crystals still lacks an unambiguous quantitative definition. In this Minireview we use information theory to characterize complexity of inorganic structures in terms of their information content.