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Lattice constant

Physical dimensions of unit cells in a crystal / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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A lattice constant or lattice parameter is one of the physical dimensions and angles that determine the geometry of the unit cells in a crystal lattice, and is proportional to the distance between atoms in the crystal. A simple cubic crystal has only one lattice constant, the distance between atoms, but in general lattices in three dimensions have six lattice constants: the lengths a, b, and c of the three cell edges meeting at a vertex, and the angles α, β, and γ between those edges.

Unit cell definition using parallelepiped with lengths a, b, c and angles between the sides given by α, β, γ[1]

The crystal lattice parameters a, b, and c have the dimension of length. The three numbers represent the size of the unit cell, that is, the distance from a given atom to an identical atom in the same position and orientation in a neighboring cell (except for very simple crystal structures, this will not necessarily be disance to the nearest neighbor). Their SI unit is the meter, and they are traditionally specified in angstroms (Å); an angstrom being 0.1 nanometer (nm), or 100 picometres (pm). Typical values start at a few angstroms. The angles α, β, and γ are usually specified in degrees.