The smallest group of atoms of a substance that has the overall symmetry of a crystal of that substance, and from which the entire lattice can be built up by repetition in three dimensions.
- Repeated translation along the edges of the unit cell can be used to derive the entire crystal lattice; in other words, the crystal lattice is the unit cell repeated many times in a periodic fashion.
- Crystallographers describe the repeating unit of a crystal lattice, the unit cell, by the length of its edges and angles between them.
- The most common method to determine deviations from stoichiometry is the use of x-ray diffraction to measure the parameters of the lattice unit cell.
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