Wednesday 25th January – The iCRAG SFI Research Centre for Applied Geosciences, together with SSPC, the SFI Research Centre for Pharmaceuticals, have announced the 2023 National Crystal Growing Competition officially open. The competition, which is open to all primary and post-primary level students and individuals, challenges them to grow the biggest and highest quality single crystal.

The National Crystal Growing Competition is an important scientific outreach activity that will challenge participants to grow crystals using ingredients readily available in the home. This is a fun hands-on experience that aims to introduce students to the exciting world of growing crystals and encourage an interest in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).  

Martin McHugh, Project and Public Engagement Officer for SSPC commented: “It is through education and outreach activities such as this that we will inspire the next generation of scientists and crystallographers. The process is safe and simple, and is designed to encourage students to develop an interest in chemistry. One of the most fun ways to interact with future scientists is through this crystal growing competition.”

Elspeth Sinclair, Education and Public Engagement Officer for iCRAG added: “The competition is open to individuals, in small groups or class groups from both primary and post-primary level. We encourage all students to enter to develop their scientific interest for this exciting challenge and try their hand at growing their own single crystals through this national contest that will be judged by professional chemists. We are looking forward to seeing the results and hope all those involved will understand and discover the science behind this process.”

The National Crystal Growing Competition fits within SFI’s public engagement remit. The aim of the competition is to have fun with science and also inspire young minds to explore careers in the areas of STEM. The competition challenges individuals or groups to grow a single crystal from a variety of compounds such as: Salt (Sodium chloride or Potassium chloride), Alum, Sugar, or Copper sulphate.

The competition originated in 2014 with the International Union of Crystallography (IUCr) Crystal growing competition, as part of the celebrations for the International Year of Crystallography. It has since grown from strength to strength and is a great addition to the many SFI outreach programmes hosted in Ireland.

To enter the competition, participants must send a picture of their crystal to experts at iCRAG and SSPC before the closing date of April, 28, 2023. More information, including crystal recipes and growing instructions can be found on the National Crystal Growing Competition websites, and

iCRAG is hosted at the University College Dublin and SSPC at the University of Limerick, with both working with a host of partners.