Lattice versus structure, dimensionality versus periodicity: a crystallographic Babel?

Massimo Nespolo
  • Journal of Applied Crystallography, February 2019, International Union of Crystallography
  • DOI: 10.1107/s1600576719000463

Correcting a widespread confusion between different concepts in chemistry and materials science

What is it about?

In the literature about chemistry and materials science terms like "lattice", sublattice", "superlattice" are often incorrectly used instead of "structure", "superstructure" and "substructure". These terms are explained and their correct use is explained. Moreover, structural modules which show periodicity in a subspace are often incorrectly called "two-dimensional", "one-dimensional" or "zero-dimensional", instead of "diperiodic", "monoperiodic" and "non-periodic". Also in this case, the terms are explained and their correct use is explained.

Why is it important?

The incorrect use of terms outside of their meaning and definition is a serious obstacle in scientific communication in structural science.


Distinguished Professor Massimo Nespolo
Universite de Lorraine

These guidelines should help non-specialists to avoid falling in the terminological traps we so often see today.

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The following have contributed to this page: Distinguished Professor Massimo Nespolo