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MATSE 512 - Principles of Crystal Chemistry

This is a sample syllabus.

This sample syllabus is a representative example of the information and materials included in this course. Information about course assignments, materials, and dates listed here is subject to change at any time. Definitive course details and materials will be available in the official course syllabus, in Canvas, when the course begins.


Crystal chemistry is concerned with the systematics of crystal structures as determined by ionic sizes and characteristics of chemical bonds and with changes in crystal structure with variations in temperature and pressure. The course begins with a short review of crystallography. It then proceeds to elements and ions as the building blocks of crystals. Models for the chemical bonds which bind elements and ions into crystals include classical electrostatic theory, crystal field theory, molecular orbital theory, and band theory. The principles underlying each model are explained. The next step in the buildup of crystals is to explain the principles of ionic packing, crystal defects, and the concepts of polymorphism and phase transitions. The discussion proceeds from binary packing structures to packing structures of ternary and quaternary composition, to metal structures, to silicate structures, to organic crystals, to defect structures and non-crystalline solids. The course concludes with structure-property relationships for thermal, optical, electrical, dielectric, and mechanical properties.


Specific course learning objectives will be available in Canvas.

Required Materials

The materials listed here represent those that may be included in this course. Students will find a definitive list in the course syllabus, in Canvas, when the course begins.

Trolier-McKinstry and Newnham, Materials Engineering: Bonding, Structure, and Structure-Property Relationships, Cambridge University Press, New York, NY 2017. (ISBN 978-1107103788)


There are no official pre-requisites for this course.  That said, in practice, students will be expected to either have, or rapidly acquire, a reasonable undergraduate background level of chemistry and physics.


We have worked hard to make this the most effective and convenient educational experience possible. How much and how well you learn is dependent on your attitude, diligence, and willingness to ask for clarifications or help when you need them. We are here to help you succeed. Please keep up with the class schedule and take advantage of opportunities to communicate with us and with your fellow students. You can expect to spend an average of 8 - 10 hours per week on class work.

Major Assignments

  • 10 Homework/Problem Sets- 50% of course grade (5% each)
    The homework assignments are open book. They are not a collaborative effort, you must work alone. 
  • 2 Midterm Exams - 30% of course grade (15% each)
    These midterm exams are challenging and are meant to assess how thoroughly you have learned the lesson material. You will be provided with a Word document containing the exam questions and you willl have a two-hour time limit to complete the exam.
  • Final Exam - 20% of course grade
    The final exam will be comprehensive and will follow the same format as the midterm exams except with a three-hour time limit.

Course Schedule

Course Schedule
  • Introduction & Symmetry
  • Space Groups, Stereographic Projections, Distances & Angles
Homework #1
  • Quantum Mechanics & The Periodic Table
  • Classification of Ions & Introduction to Bonding
Homework #2
  • Ionic & Covalent Bonding
  • Molecular Orbital Theory, Metallic, Hydrogen, & Van der Waals Bonding
Homework #3
  • Crystal Field Theory
  • Band Theory, Direct & Indirect Band Gaps, & Metal Oxide Conductors
Midterm Exam #1
  • Hume-Rothery Classification, Element Structures, & Coordination
  • Systematics of Ionic Bonding, Pauling's Rules, & Bond Valence
Homework #4
  • AX Structures & Solid Solutions
  • Systematics of Metals & Alloys
Homework #5
  • Systematics of Small Molecules
  • Systematics of Polymer Structures
Homework #6
  • Defects in Solids
  • Phase Transformations & Silicates
Homework #7
  • Neumann's Law & Introduction to Thermal Properties
  • Thermal Expansion
Midterm Exam #2
  • Thermal Conductivity
  • Diffusion & Ionic Conductivity
Homework #8
  • Optical Properties
  • Dielectrics & Ferroelectrics
Homework #9
  • Magnetic Properties
  • Mechanical Properties
Final Exam