Crystal

Crystal

Overview
A crystal or crystalline solid is a solid
Solid
Solid is one of the three classical states of matter . It is characterized by structural rigidity and resistance to changes of shape or volume. Unlike a liquid, a solid object does not flow to take on the shape of its container, nor does it expand to fill the entire volume available to it like a...

 material whose constituent atom
Atom
The atom is a basic unit of matter that consists of a dense central nucleus surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged electrons. The atomic nucleus contains a mix of positively charged protons and electrically neutral neutrons...

s, molecule
Molecule
A molecule is an electrically neutral group of at least two atoms held together by covalent chemical bonds. Molecules are distinguished from ions by their electrical charge...

s, or ion
Ion
An ion is an atom or molecule in which the total number of electrons is not equal to the total number of protons, giving it a net positive or negative electrical charge. The name was given by physicist Michael Faraday for the substances that allow a current to pass between electrodes in a...

s are arranged in an orderly
Order and disorder (physics)
In physics, the terms order and disorder designate the presence or absence of some symmetry or correlation in a many-particle system.In condensed matter physics, systems typically are ordered at low temperatures; upon heating, they undergo one or several phase transitions into less ordered...

 repeating pattern extending in all three spatial dimensions. The scientific study of crystals and crystal formation is known as crystallography
Crystallography
Crystallography is the experimental science of the arrangement of atoms in solids. The word "crystallography" derives from the Greek words crystallon = cold drop / frozen drop, with its meaning extending to all solids with some degree of transparency, and grapho = write.Before the development of...

. The process of crystal formation via mechanisms of crystal growth
Crystal growth
A crystal is a solid material whose constituent atoms, molecules, or ions are arranged in an orderly repeating pattern extending in all three spatial dimensions. Crystal growth is a major stage of a crystallization process, and consists in the addition of new atoms, ions, or polymer strings into...

 is called crystallization
Crystallization
Crystallization is the process of formation of solid crystals precipitating from a solution, melt or more rarely deposited directly from a gas. Crystallization is also a chemical solid–liquid separation technique, in which mass transfer of a solute from the liquid solution to a pure solid...

 or solidification.
The word crystal is derived from the Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 word , meaning both “ice” and “rock crystal”, from , “icy cold, frost”.

Most common metals are polycrystals.
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Encyclopedia
A crystal or crystalline solid is a solid
Solid
Solid is one of the three classical states of matter . It is characterized by structural rigidity and resistance to changes of shape or volume. Unlike a liquid, a solid object does not flow to take on the shape of its container, nor does it expand to fill the entire volume available to it like a...

 material whose constituent atom
Atom
The atom is a basic unit of matter that consists of a dense central nucleus surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged electrons. The atomic nucleus contains a mix of positively charged protons and electrically neutral neutrons...

s, molecule
Molecule
A molecule is an electrically neutral group of at least two atoms held together by covalent chemical bonds. Molecules are distinguished from ions by their electrical charge...

s, or ion
Ion
An ion is an atom or molecule in which the total number of electrons is not equal to the total number of protons, giving it a net positive or negative electrical charge. The name was given by physicist Michael Faraday for the substances that allow a current to pass between electrodes in a...

s are arranged in an orderly
Order and disorder (physics)
In physics, the terms order and disorder designate the presence or absence of some symmetry or correlation in a many-particle system.In condensed matter physics, systems typically are ordered at low temperatures; upon heating, they undergo one or several phase transitions into less ordered...

 repeating pattern extending in all three spatial dimensions. The scientific study of crystals and crystal formation is known as crystallography
Crystallography
Crystallography is the experimental science of the arrangement of atoms in solids. The word "crystallography" derives from the Greek words crystallon = cold drop / frozen drop, with its meaning extending to all solids with some degree of transparency, and grapho = write.Before the development of...

. The process of crystal formation via mechanisms of crystal growth
Crystal growth
A crystal is a solid material whose constituent atoms, molecules, or ions are arranged in an orderly repeating pattern extending in all three spatial dimensions. Crystal growth is a major stage of a crystallization process, and consists in the addition of new atoms, ions, or polymer strings into...

 is called crystallization
Crystallization
Crystallization is the process of formation of solid crystals precipitating from a solution, melt or more rarely deposited directly from a gas. Crystallization is also a chemical solid–liquid separation technique, in which mass transfer of a solute from the liquid solution to a pure solid...

 or solidification.
The word crystal is derived from the Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 word , meaning both “ice” and “rock crystal”, from , “icy cold, frost”.

Most common metals are polycrystals. Crystals are often symmetrically intergrown to form crystal twins.

Crystal structure


The process of forming a crystalline structure from a fluid or from materials dissolved in the fluid is often referred to as the crystallization
Crystallization
Crystallization is the process of formation of solid crystals precipitating from a solution, melt or more rarely deposited directly from a gas. Crystallization is also a chemical solid–liquid separation technique, in which mass transfer of a solute from the liquid solution to a pure solid...

process. In the old example referenced by the root meaning of the word crystal, water being cooled undergoes a phase change from liquid to solid beginning with small ice crystals that grow until they fuse, forming a polycrystalline structure. The physical properties of the ice depend on the size and arrangement of the individual crystals, or grains, and the same may be said of metals solidifying from a molten state.

Which crystal structure
Crystal structure
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...

 the fluid
Fluid
In physics, a fluid is a substance that continually deforms under an applied shear stress. Fluids are a subset of the phases of matter and include liquids, gases, plasmas and, to some extent, plastic solids....

 will form depends on the chemistry
Chemistry
Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....

 of the fluid, the conditions under which it is being solidified, and also on the ambient pressure
Ambient pressure
The ambient pressure on an object is the pressure of the surrounding medium, such as a gas or liquid, which comes into contact with the object....

. While the cooling process usually results in the generation of a crystalline material, under certain conditions, the fluid may be frozen in a noncrystalline state. In most cases, this involves cooling the fluid so rapidly that atoms cannot travel to their lattice sites before they lose mobility. A noncrystalline material, which has no long-range order, is called an amorphous, vitreous, or glass
Glass
Glass is an amorphous solid material. Glasses are typically brittle and optically transparent.The most familiar type of glass, used for centuries in windows and drinking vessels, is soda-lime glass, composed of about 75% silica plus Na2O, CaO, and several minor additives...

y material. It is also often referred to as an amorphous solid, although there are distinct differences between crystalline solids and amorphous solids: most notably, the process of forming a glass does not release the latent heat of fusion.

Crystalline structures occur in all classes of materials, with all types of chemical bond
Chemical bond
A chemical bond is an attraction between atoms that allows the formation of chemical substances that contain two or more atoms. The bond is caused by the electromagnetic force attraction between opposite charges, either between electrons and nuclei, or as the result of a dipole attraction...

s. Almost all metal
Metallic bond
Metallic bonding is the electrostatic attractive forces between the delocalized electrons, called conduction electrons, gathered in an "electron sea", and the positively charged metal ions...

 exists in a polycrystalline state; amorphous or single-crystal metals must be produced synthetically, often with great difficulty. Ionically bonded
Ionic bond
An ionic bond is a type of chemical bond formed through an electrostatic attraction between two oppositely charged ions. Ionic bonds are formed between a cation, which is usually a metal, and an anion, which is usually a nonmetal. Pure ionic bonding cannot exist: all ionic compounds have some...

 crystals can form upon solidification of salt
Salt
In chemistry, salts are ionic compounds that result from the neutralization reaction of an acid and a base. They are composed of cations and anions so that the product is electrically neutral...

s, either from a molten
Mölten
Mölten is a comune in South Tyrol in the Italian region Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, located about 60 km north of Trento and about 12 km northwest of Bolzano .-Geography:...

 fluid or upon crystallization from a solution. Covalently bonded crystals are also very common, notable examples being diamond
Diamond
In mineralogy, diamond is an allotrope of carbon, where the carbon atoms are arranged in a variation of the face-centered cubic crystal structure called a diamond lattice. Diamond is less stable than graphite, but the conversion rate from diamond to graphite is negligible at ambient conditions...

, silica, and graphite
Graphite
The mineral graphite is one of the allotropes of carbon. It was named by Abraham Gottlob Werner in 1789 from the Ancient Greek γράφω , "to draw/write", for its use in pencils, where it is commonly called lead . Unlike diamond , graphite is an electrical conductor, a semimetal...

. Polymer
Polymer
A polymer is a large molecule composed of repeating structural units. These subunits are typically connected by covalent chemical bonds...

 materials generally will form crystalline regions, but the lengths of the molecules usually prevent complete crystallization. Weak van der Waals force
Van der Waals force
In physical chemistry, the van der Waals force , named after Dutch scientist Johannes Diderik van der Waals, is the sum of the attractive or repulsive forces between molecules other than those due to covalent bonds or to the electrostatic interaction of ions with one another or with neutral...

s can also play a role in a crystal structure; for example, this type of bonding loosely holds together the hexagonal-patterned sheets in graphite.

Most crystalline materials have a variety of crystallographic defect
Crystallographic defect
Crystalline solids exhibit a periodic crystal structure. The positions of atoms or molecules occur on repeating fixed distances, determined by the unit cell parameters. However, the arrangement of atom or molecules in most crystalline materials is not perfect...

s. The types and structures of these defects may have a profound effect on the properties of the materials.

Crystalline phases

  • Polymorphism
    Polymorphism (materials science)
    Polymorphism in materials science is the ability of a solid material to exist in more than one form or crystal structure. Polymorphism can potentially be found in any crystalline material including polymers, minerals, and metals, and is related to allotropy, which refers to chemical elements...

     is the ability of a solid to exist in more than one crystal form. For example, water ice
    Ice
    Ice is water frozen into the solid state. Usually ice is the phase known as ice Ih, which is the most abundant of the varying solid phases on the Earth's surface. It can appear transparent or opaque bluish-white color, depending on the presence of impurities or air inclusions...

     is ordinarily found in the hexagonal form Ice Ih
    Ice Ih
    thumb|Photograph showing details of an ice cube under magnification. Ice Ih is the form of ice commonly seen on earth.Ice Ih is the hexagonal crystal form of ordinary ice, or frozen water. Virtually all ice in the biosphere is ice Ih, with the exception only of a small amount of ice Ic which is...

    , but can also exist as the cubic Ice Ic
    Ice Ic
    Ice Ic is a metastable cubic crystalline variant of ice. The oxygen atoms are arranged in a diamond structure. It is produced at temperatures between 130 and 220 K , and can exist up to 240 K, when it transforms into ice Ih. It may occasionally be present in the upper atmosphere.Ordinary water ice...

    , the rhombohedral ice II
    Ice II
    Ice II is a rhombohedral crystalline form of ice with highly ordered structure. It is formed from ice Ih by compressing it at temperature of 198 K at 300 MPa or by decompressing ice V. When heated it undergoes transformation to ice III....

    , and many other forms.
  • Amorphous phases are also possible with the same molecule, such as amorphous ice
    Amorphous ice
    Amorphous ice is an amorphous solid form of water, meaning it consists of water molecules that are randomly arranged like the atoms of common glass. Everyday ice is a crystalline material where the atoms are regularly arranged in a lattice whereas amorphous ice is distinguished by a lack of...

    . In this case, the phenomenon is known as polyamorphism
    Polyamorphism
    Polyamorphism is the ability of a substance to exist in several different amorphous modifications. It is analogous to the polymorphism of crystalline materials. Many amorphous substances can exist with different amorphous characteristics . However, polyamorphism requires two distinct amorphous...

    .
  • For pure chemical elements, polymorphism is known as allotropy
    Allotropy
    Allotropy or allotropism is the property of some chemical elements to exist in two or more different forms, known as allotropes of these elements...

    . For example, diamond
    Diamond
    In mineralogy, diamond is an allotrope of carbon, where the carbon atoms are arranged in a variation of the face-centered cubic crystal structure called a diamond lattice. Diamond is less stable than graphite, but the conversion rate from diamond to graphite is negligible at ambient conditions...

    , graphite
    Graphite
    The mineral graphite is one of the allotropes of carbon. It was named by Abraham Gottlob Werner in 1789 from the Ancient Greek γράφω , "to draw/write", for its use in pencils, where it is commonly called lead . Unlike diamond , graphite is an electrical conductor, a semimetal...

    , and fullerene
    Fullerene
    A fullerene is any molecule composed entirely of carbon, in the form of a hollow sphere, ellipsoid, or tube. Spherical fullerenes are also called buckyballs, and they resemble the balls used in association football. Cylindrical ones are called carbon nanotubes or buckytubes...

    s are different allotropes of carbon
    Carbon
    Carbon is the chemical element with symbol C and atomic number 6. As a member of group 14 on the periodic table, it is nonmetallic and tetravalent—making four electrons available to form covalent chemical bonds...

    .

Crystal faces and shapes



Crystals are commonly recognized by their shape, consisting of flat faces, sharp angles, and opposite faces being parallel to each other. These shape characteristics are not necessary for a crystal—a crystal is scientifically defined by its microscopic atomic arrangement, not its macroscopic shape—but the characteristic macroscopic shape is almost always present and easy to see.

The flat faces (also called facet
Facet
Facets are flat faces on geometric shapes. The organization of naturally occurring facets was key to early developments in crystallography, since they reflect the underlying symmetry of the crystal structure...

s) are oriented in a specific way relative to the underlying atomic arrangement of the crystal
Crystal structure
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...

: They are planes
Plane (mathematics)
In mathematics, a plane is a flat, two-dimensional surface. A plane is the two dimensional analogue of a point , a line and a space...

 of relatively low Miller index
Miller index
Miller indices form a notation system in crystallography for planes and directions in crystal lattices.In particular, a family of lattice planes is determined by three integers h, k, and ℓ, the Miller indices. They are written , and each index denotes a plane orthogonal to a direction in the...

. This occurs because some surface orientations are more stable than others (lower surface energy
Surface energy
Surface energy quantifies the disruption of intermolecular bonds that occur when a surface is created. In the physics of solids, surfaces must be intrinsically less energetically favorable than the bulk of a material, otherwise there would be a driving force for surfaces to be created, removing...

). As a crystal grows, new atoms attach easily to the rougher and less stable parts of the surface, but less easily to the flat, stable surfaces. Therefore, the flat surfaces tend to grow larger and smoother, until the whole crystal surface consists of these plane surfaces. (See diagram on right.)

One of the oldest techniques in the science of crystallography
Crystallography
Crystallography is the experimental science of the arrangement of atoms in solids. The word "crystallography" derives from the Greek words crystallon = cold drop / frozen drop, with its meaning extending to all solids with some degree of transparency, and grapho = write.Before the development of...

 consists of measuring the three-dimensional orientations of the faces of a crystal, and using them to infer the underlying crystal symmetry
Crystal system
In crystallography, the terms crystal system, crystal family, and lattice system each refer to one of several classes of space groups, lattices, point groups, or crystals...

.

Special cases



Since the initial discovery of crystal-like individual arrays of atoms that are not regularly repeated, made in 1982 by Dan Shechtman
Dan Shechtman
Dan Shechtman is the Philip Tobias Professor of Materials Science at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, an Associate of the US Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory, and Professor of Materials Science at Iowa State University. On April 8, 1982, while on sabbatical at the U.S...

, the acceptance of the concept and the word quasicrystal
Quasicrystal
A quasiperiodic crystal, or, in short, quasicrystal, is a structure that is ordered but not periodic. A quasicrystalline pattern can continuously fill all available space, but it lacks translational symmetry...

 have led the International Union of Crystallography
International Union of Crystallography
The International Union of Crystallography is a member of the International Council for Science and exists to serve the world community of crystallographers....

 to redefine the term crystal to mean "any solid having an essentially discrete diffraction diagram", thereby shifting the essential attribute of crystallinity from position space
Euclidean space
In mathematics, Euclidean space is the Euclidean plane and three-dimensional space of Euclidean geometry, as well as the generalizations of these notions to higher dimensions...

 to Fourier space
Frequency domain
In electronics, control systems engineering, and statistics, frequency domain is a term used to describe the domain for analysis of mathematical functions or signals with respect to frequency, rather than time....

. Within the family of crystals one distinguishes between traditional crystals, which are periodic, or repeating, at the atomic scale, and aperiodic (incommensurate) crystals which are not. This broader definition adopted in 1996 reflects the current understanding that microscopic periodicity is a sufficient but not a necessary condition for crystals.

While the term "crystal" has a precise meaning within materials science
Materials science
Materials science is an interdisciplinary field applying the properties of matter to various areas of science and engineering. This scientific field investigates the relationship between the structure of materials at atomic or molecular scales and their macroscopic properties. It incorporates...

 and solid-state physics
Solid-state physics
Solid-state physics is the study of rigid matter, or solids, through methods such as quantum mechanics, crystallography, electromagnetism, and metallurgy. It is the largest branch of condensed matter physics. Solid-state physics studies how the large-scale properties of solid materials result from...

, colloquially "crystal" refers to solid objects that exhibit well-defined and often pleasing geometric shapes. In this sense of the word, many types of crystals are found in nature. The shape of these crystals is dependent on the types of molecular bonds between the atoms to determine the structure, as well as on the conditions under which they formed. Snowflake
Snowflake
Snowflakes are conglomerations of frozen ice crystals which fall through the Earth's atmosphere. They begin as snow crystals which develop when microscopic supercooled cloud droplets freeze. Snowflakes come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Complex shapes emerge as the flake moves through...

s, diamonds, and table salt
Salt
In chemistry, salts are ionic compounds that result from the neutralization reaction of an acid and a base. They are composed of cations and anions so that the product is electrically neutral...

 are common examples of crystals.

Some crystalline materials may exhibit special electrical properties such as the ferroelectric effect or the piezoelectric effect
Piezoelectricity
Piezoelectricity is the charge which accumulates in certain solid materials in response to applied mechanical stress. The word piezoelectricity means electricity resulting from pressure...

. Additionally, light
Light
Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation that is visible to the human eye, and is responsible for the sense of sight. Visible light has wavelength in a range from about 380 nanometres to about 740 nm, with a frequency range of about 405 THz to 790 THz...

 passing through a crystal is often refracted
Refraction
Refraction is the change in direction of a wave due to a change in its speed. It is essentially a surface phenomenon . The phenomenon is mainly in governance to the law of conservation of energy. The proper explanation would be that due to change of medium, the phase velocity of the wave is changed...

 or bent in different directions, producing an array of color
Color
Color or colour is the visual perceptual property corresponding in humans to the categories called red, green, blue and others. Color derives from the spectrum of light interacting in the eye with the spectral sensitivities of the light receptors...

s; crystal optics
Crystal optics
Crystal optics is the branch of optics that describes the behaviour of light in anisotropic media, that is, media in which light behaves differently depending on which direction the light is propagating. The index of refraction depends on both composition and crystal structure and can be...

 is the study of these effects. In periodic dielectric
Dielectric
A dielectric is an electrical insulator that can be polarized by an applied electric field. When a dielectric is placed in an electric field, electric charges do not flow through the material, as in a conductor, but only slightly shift from their average equilibrium positions causing dielectric...

 structures a range of unique optical properties can be expected as seen in photonic crystal
Photonic crystal
Photonic crystals are periodic optical nanostructures that are designed to affect the motion of photons in a similar way that periodicity of a semiconductor crystal affects the motion of electrons...

s.

Occurrence in nature


By volume and weight the largest concentrations of crystals in the earth are part the Earth's solid bedrock. Here crystals have formed by magmatic and metamorphic processes giving origin to large masses of crystalline rock. Other crystals have formed out of precipitation from fluids, commonly water, to form druse
Druse (geology)
In geological usage druse or druzy is a coating of fine crystals on a rock fracture surface, vein or within a vug or geode.- Occurrence :Druse occurs worldwide, the most common is perhaps quartz druse within voids in chert or agates...

s or quartz
Quartz
Quartz is the second-most-abundant mineral in the Earth's continental crust, after feldspar. It is made up of a continuous framework of SiO4 silicon–oxygen tetrahedra, with each oxygen being shared between two tetrahedra, giving an overall formula SiO2. There are many different varieties of quartz,...

 veins. Water ice
Ice
Ice is water frozen into the solid state. Usually ice is the phase known as ice Ih, which is the most abundant of the varying solid phases on the Earth's surface. It can appear transparent or opaque bluish-white color, depending on the presence of impurities or air inclusions...

 in form of Snow
Snow
Snow is a form of precipitation within the Earth's atmosphere in the form of crystalline water ice, consisting of a multitude of snowflakes that fall from clouds. Since snow is composed of small ice particles, it is a granular material. It has an open and therefore soft structure, unless packed by...

, sea ice
Sea ice
Sea ice is largely formed from seawater that freezes. Because the oceans consist of saltwater, this occurs below the freezing point of pure water, at about -1.8 °C ....

 and glaciers are also very common occurrences of crystalline matter on earth. Many living organisms are able to produce crystals, for example calcite
Calcite
Calcite is a carbonate mineral and the most stable polymorph of calcium carbonate . The other polymorphs are the minerals aragonite and vaterite. Aragonite will change to calcite at 380-470°C, and vaterite is even less stable.-Properties:...

 and aragonite
Aragonite
Aragonite is a carbonate mineral, one of the two common, naturally occurring, crystal forms of calcium carbonate, CaCO3...

 in the case of most molluscs or hydroxylapatite
Hydroxylapatite
Hydroxylapatite, also called hydroxyapatite , is a naturally occurring mineral form of calcium apatite with the formula Ca53, but is usually written Ca1062 to denote that the crystal unit cell comprises two entities. Hydroxylapatite is the hydroxyl endmember of the complex apatite group...

 in the case of vertebrate
Vertebrate
Vertebrates are animals that are members of the subphylum Vertebrata . Vertebrates are the largest group of chordates, with currently about 58,000 species described. Vertebrates include the jawless fishes, bony fishes, sharks and rays, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds...

s.

Rocks


Inorganic matter
Matter
Matter is a general term for the substance of which all physical objects consist. Typically, matter includes atoms and other particles which have mass. A common way of defining matter is as anything that has mass and occupies volume...

, if free to take that physical state in which it is most stable, tends to crystallize. There is no practical limit to the size a crystal may attain under the right conditions, and selenite single crystal
Single crystal
A single crystal or monocrystalline solid is a material in which the crystal lattice of the entire sample is continuous and unbroken to the edges of the sample, with no grain boundaries...

s in excess of 10 m are found in the Cave of the Crystals in Naica, Mexico.

Crystalline rock
Rock (geology)
In geology, rock or stone is a naturally occurring solid aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids.The Earth's outer solid layer, the lithosphere, is made of rock. In general rocks are of three types, namely, igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic...

 masses have consolidated from aqueous solution
Solution
In chemistry, a solution is a homogeneous mixture composed of only one phase. In such a mixture, a solute is dissolved in another substance, known as a solvent. The solvent does the dissolving.- Types of solutions :...

 or from molten magma
Magma
Magma is a mixture of molten rock, volatiles and solids that is found beneath the surface of the Earth, and is expected to exist on other terrestrial planets. Besides molten rock, magma may also contain suspended crystals and dissolved gas and sometimes also gas bubbles. Magma often collects in...

. The vast majority of igneous rocks belong to this group and the degree of crystallization depends primarily on the conditions under which they solidified. Such rocks as granite
Granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

, which have cooled very slowly and under great pressures, have completely crystallized, but many lavas were poured out at the surface and cooled very rapidly; in this latter group a small amount of amorphous or glass
Glass
Glass is an amorphous solid material. Glasses are typically brittle and optically transparent.The most familiar type of glass, used for centuries in windows and drinking vessels, is soda-lime glass, composed of about 75% silica plus Na2O, CaO, and several minor additives...

y matter is frequent. Other crystalline rocks, the evaporite
Evaporite
Evaporite is a name for a water-soluble mineral sediment that result from concentration and crystallization by evaporation from an aqueous solution. There are two types of evaporate deposits, marine which can also be described as ocean deposits, and non-marine which are found in standing bodies of...

s such as rock salt, gypsum
Gypsum
Gypsum is a very soft sulfate mineral composed of calcium sulfate dihydrate, with the chemical formula CaSO4·2H2O. It is found in alabaster, a decorative stone used in Ancient Egypt. It is the second softest mineral on the Mohs Hardness Scale...

 and some limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

s have been deposited from aqueous solution, mostly owing to evaporation
Evaporation
Evaporation is a type of vaporization of a liquid that occurs only on the surface of a liquid. The other type of vaporization is boiling, which, instead, occurs on the entire mass of the liquid....

 in arid
Arid
A region is said to be arid when it is characterized by a severe lack of available water, to the extent of hindering or even preventing the growth and development of plant and animal life...

 climate
Climate
Climate encompasses the statistics of temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, rainfall, atmospheric particle count and other meteorological elemental measurements in a given region over long periods...

s. Still another group, the metamorphic rocks which includes the marble
Marble
Marble is a metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals, most commonly calcite or dolomite.Geologists use the term "marble" to refer to metamorphosed limestone; however stonemasons use the term more broadly to encompass unmetamorphosed limestone.Marble is commonly used for...

s, mica-schists and quartzite
Quartzite
Quartzite is a hard metamorphic rock which was originally sandstone. Sandstone is converted into quartzite through heating and pressure usually related to tectonic compression within orogenic belts. Pure quartzite is usually white to gray, though quartzites often occur in various shades of pink...

s; are recrystallized, that is to say, they were at first fragmental rocks, like limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

, shale
Shale
Shale is a fine-grained, clastic sedimentary rock composed of mud that is a mix of flakes of clay minerals and tiny fragments of other minerals, especially quartz and calcite. The ratio of clay to other minerals is variable. Shale is characterized by breaks along thin laminae or parallel layering...

 and sandstone
Sandstone
Sandstone is a sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand-sized minerals or rock grains.Most sandstone is composed of quartz and/or feldspar because these are the most common minerals in the Earth's crust. Like sand, sandstone may be any colour, but the most common colours are tan, brown, yellow,...

 and have never been in a molten
Mölten
Mölten is a comune in South Tyrol in the Italian region Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, located about 60 km north of Trento and about 12 km northwest of Bolzano .-Geography:...

 condition nor entirely in solution. The high temperature and pressure conditions of metamorphism
Metamorphism
Metamorphism is the solid-state recrystallization of pre-existing rocks due to changes in physical and chemical conditions, primarily heat, pressure, and the introduction of chemically active fluids. Mineralogical, chemical and crystallographic changes can occur during this process...

 have acted on them erasing their original structures, and inducing recrystallization in the solid state.

Ice


Water-based ice
Ice
Ice is water frozen into the solid state. Usually ice is the phase known as ice Ih, which is the most abundant of the varying solid phases on the Earth's surface. It can appear transparent or opaque bluish-white color, depending on the presence of impurities or air inclusions...

 in form of snow
Snow
Snow is a form of precipitation within the Earth's atmosphere in the form of crystalline water ice, consisting of a multitude of snowflakes that fall from clouds. Since snow is composed of small ice particles, it is a granular material. It has an open and therefore soft structure, unless packed by...

, sea ice
Sea ice
Sea ice is largely formed from seawater that freezes. Because the oceans consist of saltwater, this occurs below the freezing point of pure water, at about -1.8 °C ....

 and glaciers are very common occurrences of crystalline matter on Earth.

Organigenic crystals


Many living organism
Organism
In biology, an organism is any contiguous living system . In at least some form, all organisms are capable of response to stimuli, reproduction, growth and development, and maintenance of homoeostasis as a stable whole.An organism may either be unicellular or, as in the case of humans, comprise...

 are able to produce crystals; for example calcite
Calcite
Calcite is a carbonate mineral and the most stable polymorph of calcium carbonate . The other polymorphs are the minerals aragonite and vaterite. Aragonite will change to calcite at 380-470°C, and vaterite is even less stable.-Properties:...

 and aragonite
Aragonite
Aragonite is a carbonate mineral, one of the two common, naturally occurring, crystal forms of calcium carbonate, CaCO3...

 in the case of most molluscs or hydroxylapatite
Hydroxylapatite
Hydroxylapatite, also called hydroxyapatite , is a naturally occurring mineral form of calcium apatite with the formula Ca53, but is usually written Ca1062 to denote that the crystal unit cell comprises two entities. Hydroxylapatite is the hydroxyl endmember of the complex apatite group...

 in the case of vertebrate
Vertebrate
Vertebrates are animals that are members of the subphylum Vertebrata . Vertebrates are the largest group of chordates, with currently about 58,000 species described. Vertebrates include the jawless fishes, bony fishes, sharks and rays, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds...

s.

Properties

Crystal Particles Attractive forces Melting point
Melting point
The melting point of a solid is the temperature at which it changes state from solid to liquid. At the melting point the solid and liquid phase exist in equilibrium. The melting point of a substance depends on pressure and is usually specified at standard atmospheric pressure...

Other properties
Ionic
Ionic crystal
An ionic crystal is a crystal consisting of ions bound together by their electrostatic attraction. Examples of such crystals are the alkali halides, including potassium fluoride, potassium chloride, potassium bromide, potassium iodide, sodium fluoride, and other combinations of sodium, caesium,...

Positive and negative ion
Ion
An ion is an atom or molecule in which the total number of electrons is not equal to the total number of protons, giving it a net positive or negative electrical charge. The name was given by physicist Michael Faraday for the substances that allow a current to pass between electrodes in a...

s
Electrostatic attractions High Hard, brittle, good electrical conductor
Electrical conductor
In physics and electrical engineering, a conductor is a material which contains movable electric charges. In metallic conductors such as copper or aluminum, the movable charged particles are electrons...

 in molten state
Molecular Polar molecules
Chemical polarity
In chemistry, polarity refers to a separation of electric charge leading to a molecule or its chemical groups having an electric dipole or multipole moment. Polar molecules interact through dipole–dipole intermolecular forces and hydrogen bonds. Molecular polarity is dependent on the difference in...

London force and dipole-dipole attraction Low Soft, non-conductor or extremely poor conductor of electricity in liquid
Liquid
Liquid is one of the three classical states of matter . Like a gas, a liquid is able to flow and take the shape of a container. Some liquids resist compression, while others can be compressed. Unlike a gas, a liquid does not disperse to fill every space of a container, and maintains a fairly...

 state
Molecular Non-polar molecules London force Low Soft conductor

See also


  • Atomic packing factor
    Atomic packing factor
    In crystallography, atomic packing factor or packing fraction is the fraction of volume in a crystal structure that is occupied by atoms. It is dimensionless and always less than unity. For practical purposes, the APF of a crystal structure is determined by assuming that atoms are rigid spheres...

  • Cocrystal
    Cocrystal
    The definition of a cocrystal has been debated in the crystallography field. The simplest definition of a cocrystal is a crystalline structure made up of two or more components in a definite stoichiometric ratio, where each component is defined as either an atom, ion, or molecule...

  • Colloidal crystal
    Colloidal crystal
    A colloidal crystal is an ordered array of colloid particles, analogous to a standard crystal whose repeating subunits are atoms or molecules. A natural example of this phenomenon can be found in the gem opal, where spheres of silica assume a close-packed locally periodic structure under moderate...

  • Crystal growth
    Crystal growth
    A crystal is a solid material whose constituent atoms, molecules, or ions are arranged in an orderly repeating pattern extending in all three spatial dimensions. Crystal growth is a major stage of a crystallization process, and consists in the addition of new atoms, ions, or polymer strings into...

  • Crystal habit
    Crystal habit
    Crystal habit is an overall description of the visible external shape of a mineral. This description can apply to an individual crystal or an assembly of crystals or aggregates....

  • Crystal oscillator
    Crystal oscillator
    A crystal oscillator is an electronic oscillator circuit that uses the mechanical resonance of a vibrating crystal of piezoelectric material to create an electrical signal with a very precise frequency...

  • Crystal system
    Crystal system
    In crystallography, the terms crystal system, crystal family, and lattice system each refer to one of several classes of space groups, lattices, point groups, or crystals...

  • Crystallite
    Crystallite
    Crystallites are small, often microscopic crystals that, held together through highly defective boundaries, constitute a polycrystalline solid. Metallurgists often refer to crystallites as grains.- Details :...

  • Crystallographic database
    Crystallographic database
    A crystallographic database is a database specifically designed to store information about crystals and crystal structures. Crystals are solids having, in all three dimensions of space, a regularly repeating arrangement of atoms, ions, or molecules. They are characterized by symmetry, morphology,...

  • Liquid crystal
    Liquid crystal
    Liquid crystals are a state of matter that have properties between those of a conventional liquid and those of a solid crystal. For instance, an LC may flow like a liquid, but its molecules may be oriented in a crystal-like way. There are many different types of LC phases, which can be...

  • Quasicrystal
    Quasicrystal
    A quasiperiodic crystal, or, in short, quasicrystal, is a structure that is ordered but not periodic. A quasicrystalline pattern can continuously fill all available space, but it lacks translational symmetry...