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Introducing Bonding in Crystalline Solids

Introducing Bonding in Crystalline Solids

Beginning in this topic, we study crystalline solids, which consist of atoms arranged in an extended regular pattern called a lattice. Solids that do not or are unable to form crystals are classified as amorphous solids. Although amorphous solids (like glass) have a variety of interesting technological applications, the focus of this tutorial will be on crystalline solids.

Atoms arrange themselves in a lattice to form a crystal because of a net attractive force between their constituent electrons and atomic nuclei. The crystals formed by the bonding of atoms belong to one of three categories, classified by their bonding: ionic, covalent, and metallic. Molecules can also bond together to form crystals; these bonds, not discussed here, are classified as molecular. Early in the twentieth century, the atomic model of a solid was speculative. We now have direct evidence of atoms in solids (this figure).

Figure shows a 3 dimensional wavy structure with peaks and troughs.

An image made with a scanning tunneling microscope of the surface of graphite. The peaks represent the atoms, which are arranged in hexagons. The scale is in angstroms.

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