Skip to main content
Chemistry LibreTexts

8.1: Prelude to Ionic and Covalent Solids - Structures

  • Page ID
  • As we noted in our discussion of metal and alloy structures in Chapter 6, there is an intimate connection between the structures and the physical properties of materials. As we "graduate" from simple metal structures based on sphere packings to more complex structures, we find that this is still true. In this chapter we will try to systematize the structures of inorganic solids - metal oxides, halides, sulfides, and related compounds - and develop some rules for which structures to expect based on electronegativity differences, hard-soft acid-base rules, and other periodic trends. We will see that many of these structures are related to the sphere packings that we learned about in Chapter 6.

    The morphology of twinned crystals of iron pyrite (FeS2) is related to the underlying cubic symmetry of the unit cell. Like NaCl, the pyrite crystal structure can be thought of as a face-centered cubic array of anions (S22-) with cations (Fe2+) occupying all the octahedral holes.

    Inorganic solids often have simple crystal structures, and some of these structures are adopted by large families of ionic or covalent compounds. Examples of the most common structures include NaCl, CsCl, NiAs, zincblende, wurtzite, fluorite, perovskite, rutile, and spinel. We will develop these structures systematically from the close packed and non-close packed lattices shown below. Some layered structures, such as CdCl2 and CdI2, can be thought of as relatives of simple ionic lattices with some atoms "missing."

    • Was this article helpful?