There are lots of things that you can learn about crystalline solid. It is a complex material with many interesting properties and uses. Probably the first thing that you’ll want to know about crystalline solid is that it is more commonly known as crystal.
That makes things easier already, right? The word crystal is derived from the Greek word meaning both ice and rock crystal, and crystals can include anything from snowflakes to diamonds.
The Ins and Outs of Crystalline Solid
That’s a lot of ground to cover. In fact, once you start learning more about crystalline solid, you’ll start to realize just how much there is to explore and know.
You might not become a crystalline solid expert overnight, but here is everything, or just about everything you need to know about it:
How Crystals are Formed
The process of forming a crystal is called crystallization. This is where a solid is formed when atoms join together in an organized and repeating pattern that can be visible on a microscopic and macroscopic level.
Using a snowflake for example, you can see the entire crystalized form just by looking at it in the palm of your hand, but you can also observe its unique structure using a microscope. Examining it you can see the way the atoms build on one another to form what is called a crystal lattice.
Crystallization can happen when two substances are mixed together, when a substance freezes, or when a gas becomes a solid without passing through a liquid phase first.
You can witness this process for yourself by adding regular table salt to a glass of water. In less than a day, you will start to notice that tiny salt crystals form in the water. This is because the water is evaporating and drawing the atoms closer together.
Making Order Out of Chaos
It also demonstrates one of the main properties of crystals, which is their ability to make order out of chaos. As the water evaporates the salt atoms need to make sense of their changing environment. By forming a crystal lattice they help stabilize the world around them.
Are things becoming crystal clear yet?
Crystallization takes place in two steps. First is the nucleation stage when the atoms begin to come together in a pattern. This is typically either caused by a super-cooled liquid, like water freezing or magma cooling, or by a super-saturated solvent, like when those salt crystals formed as the water evaporated.
The second stage is the growth stage. This is where the atoms continue to join together in their repeating pattern. This process can take years or hours. It just depends on the conditions and the type of crystal being made. Imagine if you could grow diamonds in a glass of water in just a matter of hours?
Crystalline Solid is Valuable and Beautiful
Of course, that sadly isn’t possible, but it does bring up another key component of crystalline solid, and that is its beauty. Many types of crystals are considered rare and beautiful and that’s because of the precise conditions they need to turn out that way. A diamond’s value is derived completely from the fact that you cannot grow one in your juice glass. If you could, you wouldn’t want it.
Precious and semiprecious gemstones are made from crystals that are cut and polished. These include diamonds, rubies, and sapphires. The quality of any individual gemstone is determined by the conditions under which they were formed.
If the pattern of crystallization is interrupted either by a change in the surroundings, or the addition of a different kind of atom, then the look of the crystal is transformed. That is where impurities arise. In gemstones, impurities often show up as different colors or a lack of clarity.
Consider this the next time you are in a jewelry store looking at a diamond. As the jeweler is describing its merits you may notice a few natural occurring impurities. You may wonder what conditions deep below the Earth’s surface caused a break in the precise pattern. Perhaps it was a change in temperature or the addition of an atom other than carbon.
Crystalline Solid is Everywhere
Crystals occur everywhere in nature. You might not have realized it before, but crystals constitute so much of the world around you. From the snow that falls on your sidewalk, to the diamonds on your jewelry, to the granite countertops in your kitchen, crystals are everywhere.
The unique structure of the repeated pattern of atoms adds stability and order to your world, and if you’re lucky, it also adds a bit of beauty.