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Crystal Lattice and Unit Cells

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Crystal Lattice and Unit Cells - Lesson Summary

Crystalline solids have an orderly arrangement of their constituent particles in three dimensions. Crystal lattice is a regular arrangement of the constituent atoms or ions or molecules in three-dimensional space. A crystal lattice also called a space lattice or simply, a lattice. There are only 14 possible three-dimensional lattices. These are called Bravais’ lattices.
 
Characteristics of a crystal lattice:
  • Each point in a lattice is called a lattice point or lattice site.
  • Each point in a crystal lattice represents one constituent particle, which may be an atom, a molecule or an ion.
  • Lattice points are joined by straight lines to bring out the geometry of the lattice.
 
     
 
A crystal lattice can be subdivided into several cells, known as unit cells.
 
Unit cell: 
The smallest portion of a crystal lattice, which, when repeated in different directions, generates the entire lattice. A unit cell represents the shape of the entire crystal. A unit cell is characterised by distances a, b and c along three edges, and angles α, β, γ between pairs of edges. α is the angle between edges b and c, β is the angle between edges c and a, while γ is the angle between edges a and b.

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