Atomic packing factor
Crystallography is the experimental science of the arrangement of atoms in solids. The word "crystallography" derives from the Greek words crystallon = cold drop / frozen drop, with its meaning extending to all solids with some degree of transparency, and grapho = write.Before the development of...
, atomic packing factor (APF) or packing fraction is the fraction of volume in a crystal structure
In mineralogy and crystallography, crystal structure is a unique arrangement of atoms or molecules in a crystalline liquid or solid. A crystal structure is composed of a pattern, a set of atoms arranged in a particular way, and a lattice exhibiting long-range order and symmetry...
that is occupied by atom
The atom is a basic unit of matter that consists of a dense central nucleus surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged electrons. The atomic nucleus contains a mix of positively charged protons and electrically neutral neutrons...
s. It is dimensionless and always less than unity. For practical purposes, the APF of a crystal structure is determined by assuming that atoms are rigid spheres. The radius of the spheres is taken to be the maximal value such that the atoms do not overlap. For one-component crystals (those that contain only one type of atom), the APF is represented mathematically by
where Natoms is the number of atoms in the unit cell, Vatom is the volume of an atom, and Vunit cell is the volume occupied by the unit cell.