Crystal Structure Activity

Crystal Structure Activity
Learning Objectives
After this activity, students should be able to
1. Identify different layering patterns that lead to the cubic unit cells, determine coordination
numbers, and compute packing efficiencies for atomic solids.
2. Determine the empirical formula of an ionic compound from its crystal structure.
Use the visualization tool found at and answer the following
questions. Many of the functions in the simulation are bound to keys; look at Key Controls for the list.
The simulation starts by default with the Simple cubic lattice screen. The drop-down menu allows you
to view other lattice structures. You can rotate the structure and view it from different sides by holding
the mouse and dragging the structure. You can also zoom in and out with the mouse wheel. There are
two important modes that are controlled with the Expansion slider at the bottom of the screen. In
Layering mode, you can see how the 3D crystal lattice can be made by stacking layers of atoms. In Unit
Cell mode, you can see how the 3D lattice is composed of repeating unit cells with fractional atoms.


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