What is a Crystal?

What is a “Crystal”? By definition, a crystal is an arrangement of atoms that is repeated periodically in 3D. Periodicity or the repeating pattern is the defining feature. The fundamental, repeating building block that constructs the crystal is called the unit cell. Translation of the unit cell in 3D creates a grid-like framework, called a crystal lattice, where each lattice point occupies an identical environment. The periodicity of the crystal emerges by observing the periodic symmetry of atoms oriented within the grid-like crystal lattice along the crystal’s reference axes. The lattice points also contain information encoded in symmetry operators to describe the types of symmetry or order that we observe among the atoms a defined region of space. So, you can think of the unit cell as a nanometer-sized memory unit that encodes all of the information about the arrangement of atoms that is needed to create the entire crystal. The unit cell can adopt 1 of 7 crystal system geometries, which is also mirrored fractally in the external shape of the crystal. For example, the cubic crystals of NaCl are constructed with a cubic unit cell.

The Atomic Structure of Quartz Crystal is built from molecules of Silicon Dioxide, which form additional covalent bonds to produce Silicon-Oxygen tetrahedra. In this chemical structure, Oxygen has a partially negative charge, while the central Silicon atom is partially positive; however, the Silicon-Oxygen tetrahedra is symmetrical with identical bond lengths and angles, so the positive and negative charges cancel out. This Silicon-Oxygen tetrahedron is the fundamental structural unit of the crystal, which covalently links together to form a crystal lattice with hexagonal geometry. The hexagonal symmetry confers a Trigonal/Hexagonal crystal system unit cell, which is mirrored holographically in the hexagonal external shape of the natural Quartz crystal.

The crystal lattice is grown through the two-step crystallization process of nucleation and crystal growth. We can visualize this process from an energetic perspective to understand how energy minimization drives the phase transition between liquid phase to a solid, crystalline phase. In the first step of nucleation, single molecules that are randomly dispersed in a liquid self-associate to balance the attractive and repulsive forces of positive and negative charges and electrons through a mechanism of charge complementarity. These critical aggregates form energetically stable molecular interactions to produce the symmetry of the unit cell, at which point the crystallization reaction crosses a critical energy barrier to initiate crystal growth. The resulting stable nuclei contain the unit cell memory scaffold to systematically incorporate molecules or atoms at the location of lowest entropy to expand the crystal lattice dimensions until it reaches an energy minimized state. The liquid-to-crystalline phase transition can also be visualized as a Phase Diagram, which shows how physical parameters of the environmental conditions affect the crystallization process, which ultimately affects the structural order and energetic quality of the crystal lattice. Transparent quartz crystals indicate a well-ordered internal structure, whereas opaque quartz crystals indicate the presence of impurities or disordered regions within the crystal lattice. The order, geometry, and internal structure of the crystal lattice ultimately determines the emergent energetic properties of the crystal.


[1] Kattke et al. 2019. An Overview of Crystal Technology for Energy Healing and Biofield Research. 2019 Institute of Noetic Sciences: The Possibility Accelerator.


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