A solid material that exists as a 3-dimensional arrangement of atoms, ions or molecules in repeating patterns. Based on the orientation and positions of the repeating units, crystals are grouped into six systems:
- isometric (cubic) - three perpendicular axes of equal length
- tetragonal - three perpendicular axes, two of equal length
- orthorhombic - three perpendicular axes of different lengths
- monoclinic - three axes of different lengths, two perpendicular
- triclinic - three axes of different lengths, none perpendicular
- hexagonal - three symmetrically spaced axes in one plane with a fourth axes that extends perpendicular to the first three.
The morphology of a crystal affects its optical properties such as index of refraction, color and birefringence.
Synonyms and Related Terms
crystals; cristal (Esp., Fr., Port.); Kristall (Deut.); kristal (Ned.)
Resources and Citations
- Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
- Walter C. McCrone, John Gustave Delly, The Particle Atlas, W. McCrone Associates, Chicago, IV, 1972
- Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976
- The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
- Art and Architecture Thesaurus Online, http://www.getty.edu/research/tools/vocabulary/aat/, J. Paul Getty Trust, Los Angeles, 2000