Structure of Solid Matter
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When atoms are chemically bound to one another they have well-defined equilibrium separations that are determined by the condition that the total energy is minimized. Therefore, in a solid composed of many identical atoms, the minimum energy is obtained only when every atom is in an identical environment. This leads to a three-dimensional periodic arrangement that is known as the crystalline state. The same is true for solids that are composed of more than one type of element. In this case, certain “building blocks” comprising a few atoms are the periodically repeated units. Periodicity gives rise to a number of typical properties of solids. Periodicity also simplifies the theoretical understanding and the formal theory of solids enormously. Although a real solid never possesses exact three-dimensional periodicity, one assumes perfect periodicity as a model and deals with the defects in terms of a perturbation (Sect. 2.7). Three-dimensional periodic arrangements of atoms or “building blocks” are realized in many different ways. Basic elements of the resulting crystal structures are described in Sects. 2.1–2.5.
KeywordsFree Enthalpy Burger Vector Point Group Mirror Plane Solid Matter
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