7 Jul 2009

Solid State Structures

In-Class Activity

Submitted by Adam Bridgeman, The University of Sydney

JMol site http://firstyear.chem.usyd.edu.au/calculators/solid_state.shtml how common inorganic structures are built from the filling of interstitial sites in CCP and HCP lattices.

The site is used as post-work for a hands-on lab about packing (http://firstyear.chem.usyd.edu.au/LabManual/E12.pdf).

Learning Goals: 

A student should be able to:

  • explain the difference between CCP and HCP packing
  • see how many crystal structures can be built from these arrangements by different filling of the interstitial sites
Equipment needs: 
Jmol requires a Java - enabled browser.
Implementation Notes: 

There is a post-work quiz associated with the activity (see "questions" tab on website) which students complete as part of the lab mark.

Time Required: 
45 - 60 minutes
Evaluation Methods: 
Evaluation via post-work quiz
Creative Commons License: 
Creative Commons Licence


I am very interested in the virtual reality parts of the website but I after poking around a bit I couldn't seem to find a plug in that works with the Mac. Any suggestions?

I don't own a Mac so can't test this, but I found:



Can somebody kindly tell me where can I purchase crystal structure models that are affordable and friendly to use for students in class?  Thank you in advance.  Mihaela


My preferred model kit to use in class is the ICE Solid State Model Kit.  It is easy to learn to use and builds a large number of close-packed and common inorganic crystal structures.  Here is the URL that shows a photo of a typical kit.


I am not sure how affordable these are now.  They are sold through the Institute of Chemical Education at the University of Wisconsin.  A long time ago now (time flies), I purchased 12 of these for the department and have used them in both Inorganic and General Chemistry.  Works best to have groups of 4 students working with 2 kits as I have students build 2 structures or 2 views of a structure and compare them side-by-side.  Joanne Stewart posted a learning object based on these kits on VIPEr and your question reminds me that I should probably put up versions of what I have done with them as well.

ICE also sells a polyhedral model kit (scroll to the bottom of this linked page) that takes a slightly different approach to assembling the structures (polyhedral units vs. packed spheres).  I have a set that I use in class to illustrate structures, but I have never had the students work with these.  Another VIPEr user, Mike Condren, has posted a link to the online manual for this kit that has great Jmol animations of different crystal structures.  These animations could be used on their own, too!

Hope that is helpful!  I am curious if anyone else has any recommendations.

Adam, I just want to thank you again for these great animations and Jmol models!  I went looking for the link to post to my Moodle course page after my students did some 3-D modeling with the ICE Model Kits.  After reviewing your resources again, I realized I already had the link on my Moodle.  Doh!  And Hilary, I didn't have any problems with the Jmol models, so I don't think you need to worry about the plug-ins for VRML as long as you have Java on your computer.

I noticed I had never rated this resource.  I am definitely giving this one 5 d-orbitals!!  How many of you VIPEr users rate the learning objects you find on the site?  Choose 1-5 d-orbitals (right above where the Comments begin) to rate something!

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