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In general, a unit cell is defined by the lengths of three axes ( a , b , and c ) and the angles ( α , β , and γ ) between them, as illustrated in [link] . The axes are defined as being the lengths between points in the space lattice. Consequently, unit cell axes join points with identical environments.

A cube is shown where each corner has a black dot drawn on it. A circle in the bottom of the cube is composed of three double-ended arrows. The left top of this circle is labeled “alpha,” the top right is labeled “beta” and the bottom is labeled “gamma.” The bottom left corner of the cube is labeled “a” while the bottom of the back face is labeled “b” and the top, back, left corner is labeled “c.”
A unit cell is defined by the lengths of its three axes ( a , b , and c ) and the angles ( α , β , and γ ) between the axes.

There are seven different lattice systems, some of which have more than one type of lattice, for a total of fourteen different unit cells, which have the shapes shown in [link] .

A table is composed of two columns and eight rows. The header row reads “System / Axes / Angles” and “Unit Cells .” The first column reads “Cubic, a equals b equals c, alpha equals beta equals gamma equals 90 degrees,” “Tetragonal, a equals b does not equal c, alpha equals beta equals gamma equals 90 degrees,” “Orthorhombic, a does not equal b does not equal c, alpha equals beta equals gamma equals 90 degrees,” “Monoclinic, a does not equal b does not equal c, alpha equals gamma equals 90 degrees, beta does not equal 90 degrees,” “Triclinic, a does not equal b does not equal c, alpha does not equal beta does not equal gamma does not equal 90 degrees,” “Hexagonal, a equals b does not equal c, alpha equals beta equals 90 degrees, gamma equals 120 degrees,” “Rhombohedral, a equals b equals c, alpha equals beta equals gamma does not equal 90 degrees.” The second column is composed of diagrams. The first set of diagrams in the first cell show a cube with spheres at each corner labeled “Simple,” a cube with spheres in each corner and on each face labeled “Face-centered” and a cube with spheres in each corner and one in the center labeled “Body-centered.” The second set of diagrams in the second cell show a vertical rectangle with spheres at each corner labeled “Simple” and a vertical rectangle with spheres in each corner and one in the center labeled “Body-centered.” The third set of diagrams in the third cell show a vertical rectangle with spheres at each corner labeled “Simple,” a vertical rectangle with spheres in each corner and one in the center labeled “Body-centered,” a vertical rectangle with spheres in each corner and one on the top and bottom faces labeled “Base-centered,” and a vertical rectangle with spheres in each corner and one on each face labeled “Face-centered.” The fourth set of diagrams in the fourth cell show a vertical rectangle with spheres at each corner that is slanted to one side labeled “Simple” and a vertical rectangle with spheres in each corner that is slanted to one side and has two spheres in the center is labeled “Body-centered.” The fifth diagrams in the fifth cell show a cube that is slanted with spheres at each corner while the sixth diagram in the sixth cell shows a pair of hexagonal rings that are connected together to form a six-sided shape with spheres at each corner. The seventh diagram in the seventh cell shows a rectangle that is slanted with spheres at each corner.
There are seven different lattice systems and 14 different unit cells.

The structures of ionic crystals

Ionic crystals consist of two or more different kinds of ions that usually have different sizes. The packing of these ions into a crystal structure is more complex than the packing of metal atoms that are the same size.

Most monatomic ions behave as charged spheres, and their attraction for ions of opposite charge is the same in every direction. Consequently, stable structures for ionic compounds result (1) when ions of one charge are surrounded by as many ions as possible of the opposite charge and (2) when the cations and anions are in contact with each other. Structures are determined by two principal factors: the relative sizes of the ions and the ratio of the numbers of positive and negative ions in the compound.

In simple ionic structures, we usually find the anions, which are normally larger than the cations, arranged in a closest-packed array. (As seen previously, additional electrons attracted to the same nucleus make anions larger and fewer electrons attracted to the same nucleus make cations smaller when compared to the atoms from which they are formed.) The smaller cations commonly occupy one of two types of holes (or interstices) remaining between the anions. The smaller of the holes is found between three anions in one plane and one anion in an adjacent plane. The four anions surrounding this hole are arranged at the corners of a tetrahedron, so the hole is called a tetrahedral hole    . The larger type of hole is found at the center of six anions (three in one layer and three in an adjacent layer) located at the corners of an octahedron; this is called an octahedral hole    . [link] illustrates both of these types of holes.

An image shows a top-view of a layer of blue spheres arranged in a sheet lying atop another sheet that is the same except the spheres are green. The second sheet is offset just a bit so that the spheres of the top sheet lie in the grooves of the second sheet. A third sheet composed of purple spheres lies at the bottom. The spaces created between the spheres in each layer are labeled “Octahedral holes” and “Tetrahedral holes.”
Cations may occupy two types of holes between anions: octahedral holes or tetrahedral holes.

Depending on the relative sizes of the cations and anions, the cations of an ionic compound may occupy tetrahedral or octahedral holes, as illustrated in [link] . Relatively small cations occupy tetrahedral holes, and larger cations occupy octahedral holes. If the cations are too large to fit into the octahedral holes, the anions may adopt a more open structure, such as a simple cubic array. The larger cations can then occupy the larger cubic holes made possible by the more open spacing.

A diagram of three images is shown. In the first image, eight stacked cubes, with purple spheres at each corner, that make up one large cube are shown. The bottom left cube is different. It has green spheres at each corner and has four orange and six light purple spheres located on the faces of the cube. Labels below this structure read “Tetrahedral hole” and “Cation radius is about 22.5 to 41.4 percent of the anion radius. In the second image, eight stacked cubes, with alternating orange and green spheres at each corner, make up one large cube that is shown. The bottom left cube has darker lines that connect the spheres together. Labels below this structure read “Octahedral hole” and “Cation radius is about 41.4 to 73.2 percent of the anion radius. In the third image, eight stacked cubes, with purple spheres at each corner and light purple spheres on their interior faces, make up one large cube that is shown. Labels below this structure read “Cubic hole” and “Cation radius is about 73.2 to 100 percent of the anion radius.”
A cation’s size and the shape of the hole occupied by the compound are directly related.

There are two tetrahedral holes for each anion in either an HCP or CCP array of anions. A compound that crystallizes in a closest-packed array of anions with cations in the tetrahedral holes can have a maximum cation:anion ratio of 2:1; all of the tetrahedral holes are filled at this ratio. Examples include Li 2 O, Na 2 O, Li 2 S, and Na 2 S. Compounds with a ratio of less than 2:1 may also crystallize in a closest-packed array of anions with cations in the tetrahedral holes, if the ionic sizes fit. In these compounds, however, some of the tetrahedral holes remain vacant.

Questions & Answers

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An indivisible part of an element
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the smallest particle of an element which is indivisible is called an atom
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An atom is the smallest indivisible particle of an element that can take part in chemical reaction
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is carbonates soluble
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What is atom? atom can be defined as the smallest particles
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the study of matter
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energy can neither be created or distroyed it can only be transferred or converted from one form to another
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Graham's law of Diffusion
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melting and boiling point explain in term of molecular motion and Brownian movement
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Scientific notation for 150.9433962
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aromaticity is a conjugated pi system specific to organic rings like benzene, which have an odd number of electron pairs within the system that allows for exceptional molecular stability
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sodium hydroxide (NaOH)
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is simply means a condensed water vapour
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a hydrocarbon contains 7.7 percent by mass of hydrogen and 92.3 percent by mass of carbon
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Source:  OpenStax, Chemistry. OpenStax CNX. May 20, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11760/1.9
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