An F-Center or Farbe center is a type of crystallographic defect
Crystallographic defect
Crystalline solids exhibit a periodic crystal structure. The positions of atoms or molecules occur on repeating fixed distances, determined by the unit cell parameters. However, the arrangement of atom or molecules in most crystalline materials is not perfect...

 in which an anionic vacancy in a crystal
A crystal or crystalline solid is a solid material whose constituent atoms, molecules, or ions are arranged in an orderly repeating pattern extending in all three spatial dimensions. The scientific study of crystals and crystal formation is known as crystallography...

 is filled by one or more electron
The electron is a subatomic particle with a negative elementary electric charge. It has no known components or substructure; in other words, it is generally thought to be an elementary particle. An electron has a mass that is approximately 1/1836 that of the proton...

s, depending on the charge of the missing ion
An ion is an atom or molecule in which the total number of electrons is not equal to the total number of protons, giving it a net positive or negative electrical charge. The name was given by physicist Michael Faraday for the substances that allow a current to pass between electrodes in a...

 in the crystal. Electrons in such a vacancy tend to absorb light in the visible spectrum such that a material that is usually transparent becomes colored. Thus the origin of the name, F-center, which originates from the German Farbzentrum. The translation of this term also provides the synonym color center, which can also refer to such defects.
F-centers are often paramagnetic and can then be studied by electron paramagnetic resonance
Electron paramagnetic resonance
Electron paramagnetic resonance or electron spin resonance spectroscopyis a technique for studying chemical species that have one or more unpaired electrons, such as organic and inorganic free radicals or inorganic complexes possessing a transition metal ion...

 techniques. The greater the number of F-centers, the more intense is the color of the compound. A way of producing F centers is to heat a crystal in the presence of an atmosphere of the metal that constitutes the material, e.g.: NaCl heated in a metallic Na
Sodium is a chemical element with the symbol Na and atomic number 11. It is a soft, silvery-white, highly reactive metal and is a member of the alkali metals; its only stable isotope is 23Na. It is an abundant element that exists in numerous minerals, most commonly as sodium chloride...


Na0 → Na+ + e

Na+ is incorporated at NaCl crystal.

Cl vacancies are generated, because of the excess of Na+.

These vacancies capture available e-, neutralizing and forming F-centers; that is, the electrons released in this process diffuse to occupy the vacant places. Also, ionizing radiation
Ionizing radiation
Ionizing radiation is radiation composed of particles that individually have sufficient energy to remove an electron from an atom or molecule. This ionization produces free radicals, which are atoms or molecules containing unpaired electrons...

can produce F-centers.

An H-center (a halogen interstitial) is in a sense the opposite, and hence a F-center and a H-center can combine and clear the lattice of a defect. This process can be photoinduced, e.g. by a laser.
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