Structure of Solids


A solid is nearly incompressible state of matter with well defined shape, units making up the solids are in closed contact and in fixed positions or sites. A solid consists of structural units- atoms, molecules, or ions- the are attracted to one another strongly enough to give rigid substance. One way to classify solids is by the type of force holding the structural units together. In some cases these forces are intermolecular and hold molecules together. In other cases, these forces are chemical bonds and hold atoms together. From this point of view, there are four different types of solids: molecular, metallic, ionic, and covalent. It should be noted, however, that a given ionic bond may have considerable covalent character or vice versa, so the distinction between the ionic and covalent solids is not a precise one.

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Types of Solids Based on Structures

Molecular solid structure:  A molecular solid is a solid that consists of atoms or molecules held together by intermolecular forces. Many solids are of this type. Examples are solid neon, solid water (ice), and solid carbon dioxide (dry ice).

Metallic solid structure: A metallic solid is the solid that consists of positive cores of atoms held together by surrounding “sea” of electrons (metallic bonding). In this kind of bonding, positively charged atomic cores surrounded by delocalized electrons. Examples include iron, copper, and silver.

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Ionic solid structure: An ionic solid is a solid that consists of cations and anions held together by the electrical attraction of positive charges (ionic bonds). Examples are cesium chloride, sodium chloride, and zinc sulphide.

Covalent network solid structure: A covalent network solid is a solid that consists of atoms held together in large networks or chains by covalent bonds. Diamond is an example of three-dimensional network solid. Every carbon atom in diamond is covalently bonded to four others, so an entire crystal might be considered an immense molecule. It is possible to have similar two-dimensional “sheet” and one-dimensional “chain” molecules, with atoms held together by covalent bonds. Examples are diamond(three-dimensional network), graphite (sheets), and asbestos (chains).

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