Crystal structure

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In mineralogy and crystallography, crystal structure is a unique arrangement of atoms or molecules in a crystalline liquid or solid. A crystal structure is composed of a pattern, a set of atoms arranged in a particular way, and a lattice exhibiting long-range order and symmetry. Patterns are located upon the points of a lattice, which is an array of points repeating periodically in three dimensions. The points can be thought of as forming identical tiny boxes, called unit cells, that fill the space of the lattice. The lengths of the edges of a unit cell and the angles between them are called the lattice parameters. The symmetry properties of the crystal are embodied in its space group.

A crystal's structure and symmetry play a role in determining many of its physical properties, such as cleavage, electronic band structure, and optical transparency.


Unit cell

The crystal structure of a material or the arrangement of atoms within a given type of crystal structure can be described in terms of its unit cell. The unit cell is a small box containing one or more atoms, a spatial arrangement of atoms. The unit cells stacked in three-dimensional space describe the bulk arrangement of atoms of the crystal. The crystal structure has a three dimensional shape. The unit cell is given by its lattice parameters which are the length of the cell edges and the angles between them, while the positions of the atoms inside the unit cell are described by the set of atomic positions (xi  , yi  , zi) measured from a lattice point.

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