How Do Crystals Grow?
ES0506  Visible Crystals Reflect Molecular Structure

The photograph on the left shows a crystal of halite, or sodium chloride. It is more commonly known as table salt. The cubic shape of the visible crystal is directly related to the molecular arrangement of sodium and chloride ions.

The model on the right shows the molecular arrangement of sodium and chloride ions in halite. This type of model is called a crystal lattice structure.

  !   After the 3-D model has loaded, click the arrow buttons to view it from different angles. Examine how the molecular arrangement in the 3-D model is related to the shape of the crystal in the photograph.

Smithsonian Institution
Natural crystal of halite, common table salt.
Jennifer Loomis, TERC
3-D crystal lattice structure of halite.

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