UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
Home
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Webcasts
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information
Why and how do crystals form?
Answer 1:

Crystals have a lattice (grid) of atoms forming a consistent three-dimensional structure. The atoms are where they are because it releases energy for them to be in those positions. The surface of the crystal, the edge of the lattice, can incorporate new atoms and molecules on the side as the lattice expands, which is what causes crystal growth. Similarly, crystals can dissolve if it releases energy to take the atoms out of the lattice. In the case of most minerals, the atoms are free in a liquid state (either in magma or dissolved in water), so the cooler the magma or the more concentrated the water, the more potential there is for atoms to come out of solution and join the lattice.



Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2015 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use