Solids have definite mass, volume and shape. This is due to the fixed position of their constituent particles, short distances and strong interactions between them. In amorphous solids, the arrangement of constituent particles has only short range order and consequently they behave like super cooled liquids, do not have sharp melting points and are isotropic in nature. In crystalline solids there is long range order in the arrangement of their constituent particles. They have sharp melting points, are anisotropic in nature and their particles have characteristic shapes. Properties of crystalline solids depend upon the nature of interactions between their constituent particles. On this basis, they can be divided into four categories, namely: molecular, ionic, metallic and covalent solids. They differ widely in their properties.
The constituent particles in crystalline solids are arranged in a regular pattern which extends throughout the crystal. This arrangement is often depicted in the form of a three dimensional array of points which is called crystal lattice. Each lattice point gives the location of one particle in space. In all, fourteen different types of lattices are possible which are called Bravais lattices. Each lattice can be generated by repeating its small characteristic portion called unit cell. A unit cell is characterised by its edge lengths and three angles between these edges. Unit cells can be either primitive which have particles only at their corner positions or centred. The centred unit cells have additional particles at their body centre (bodycentred), at the centre of each face (face-centred) or at the centre of two opposite faces (end-centred). There are seven types of primitive unit cells. Taking centred unit cells also into account, there are fourteen types of unit cells in all, which result in fourteen Bravais lattices.
Close-packing of particles result in two highly efficient lattices, hexagonal close-packed (hcp) and cubic close-packed (ccp). The latter is also called facecentred cubic (fcc) lattice. In both of these packings 74% space is filled. The remaining space is present in the form of two types of voids-octahedral voids and tetrahedral voids. Other types of packing are not close-packings and have less efficient packing of particles. While in body-centred cubic lattice (bcc) 68% space is filled, in simple cubic lattice only 52.4 % space is filled.
Solids are not perfect in structure. There are different types of imperfections or defects in them. Point defects and line defects are common types of defects. Point defects are of three types - stoichiometric defects, impurity defects and non-stoichiometric defects. Vacancy defects and interstitial defects are the two basic types of stoichiometric point defects. In ionic solids, these defects are present as Frenkel and Schottky defects. Impurity defects are caused by the presence of an impurity in the crystal. In ionic solids, when the ionic impurity has a different valence than the main compound, some vacancies are created. Nonstoichiometric defects are of metal excess type and metal deficient type. Sometimes
calculated amounts of impurities are introduced by doping in semiconductors that change their electrical properties. Such materials are widely used in electronics industry. Solids show many types of magnetic properties like paramagnetism, diamagnetism, ferromagnetism, antiferromagnetism and ferrimagnetism. These properties are used in audio, video and other recording devices. All these properties can be correlated with their electronic configurations or structures.