The fundamental element of all materials categorized as crystalline is a crystal. It is considered to be one of the simplest of chemical substances and the atoms are associated to one another in a definite geometrical manner.
A term called crystal systems defines the imaginary axis that joins the centers of opposite sides of a crystal. A cubic crystal is said to be a 3 axis crystal simply because it has three sets of opposing faces. A total of seven crystal systems have been identified by mineralogists covering 32 different crystals.
Moving on to further descriptions of a crystal system, foremost is an isometric crystal system also called a cubic crystal and possesses the highest level of symmetry. However, it must be noted that all isometric crystals may not necessary be cubes. Other kinds include a tetragonal, orthorhombic, monoclinic, triclinic and hexagonal system. All differ from one another because of difference in the crystal lattice or structure, for example, the hexagonal crystal system has crystals’ atoms joined in a hexagonal structure.
Allotropy refers to a different form of similar element and surfaces due to the difference in configuration at a molecular lever giving rise to a new structure and consequently different physical properties. For example, carbon has 2 associated allotropes diamond and graphite. Molecular structure in diamond involves each carbon atom bonded in a tetrahedral manner to four other carbon atoms with strong bonds such that there becomes available no plane for the molecule to split. This is the reason that imparts diamond its hardness. On the contrary, the molecular arrangement in graphite is layered which can slide over each other reason being the carbon atom bonded to three others which all lie in the same plane. This tends to give graphite it’s famous slippery and softer feel.
Hence the crystals and their arrangement are what differs one class from another both in appearance and properties.
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