The Crystal Structures of Metals

Let's explain the crystal structures of metals on the periodic table.  Many metals have a cubic structure as illustrated in the three cubic lattices given below.

simple cubic body-centered cubic (bcc) face-centered cubic (fcc)

Examples of metals:

polonium chromium copper

There are many metals that have the body-centered and face-centered cubic structures, while the simple cubic structure is rare for metals.

How is the atomic radius of a metal determined from crystallographic measurements?  To explore atomic radius and the three cubic structures above, see the interactive Excel spreadsheet or Excelet, Exploring the Crystal Structures of Metals I:  Cubic Structures.

The other structure that is common for metals is the hexagonal close packing (HCP) that is illustrated by the structures of magnesium and zinc given below.

magnesium  zinc

To explore atomic radius and the hexagonal close packing structure above, see the interactive Excel spreadsheet or Excelet, Exploring the Crystal Structures of Metals II:  Hexagonal Close Packing.

This work is supported by the Howard/Hopkins/PGCC Partnership for Research and Education in Materials (PREM), which is funded by NSF Grant No. DMR-0611595.

Please e-mail any corrections, modifications, suggestions, or questions.

Scott A. Sinex        Prince George’s Community College       3/2009