Properties of Crystals and Amorphous Solids

The forces that hold atoms together in a solid are referred to as “bonding” and can take many different forms. For example, sodium chloride is held together by ionic sodium and chlorine, while silicon atoms share electrons to form covalent bonds. While most metals share electrons with one another, they share them as covalent bonds. Van der Waals forces hold together most organic compounds. The polarity of the charge cloud on each molecule causes these forces to act together. Different bonding properties result in dissimilar solids.

Crystalline solids

A crystal is a solid made of identical units arranged in a periodic order. Their overall structure depends on the number and size of the unit cells. A crystalline solid is also classified by its melting point, which is determined by a definite angle. A crystal’s melting point is a good indicator of its composition. This can be determined by x-rays, which are used to detect crystal structures. Here are some properties of crystals:

Amorphous solids

Amorphous solids are materials without ordered structures and irregular planes of cleavage. They are therefore hard to differentiate from crystalline solids, which display distinct and ordered internal structures and a sharp melting point. Their varying physical properties make them very useful in various industrial processes, but they are also prone to breakage and are not typically recycled. To better understand what makes amorphous solids so desirable, let’s look at their properties and how they differ from crystalline materials.

Covalent-network solids

Covalent-network solids are chemical compounds whose atoms are joined together by covalent bonds in a continuous network. Because they lack individual molecules, these compounds are considered macromolecules. The solid can even be a macromolecule in its entirety. Read on to learn more. (Note that network solids cannot exist in isolation.) Learn more about covalent-network solids. And don’t forget to learn about the history of covalent-network solids.

Crystalline noncrystalline solids

Amorphous solids are different from crystals. They do not exhibit the regular three-dimensional arrangement of crystalline solids, and are not ordered on a long time scale. Amorphous solids do have short-range order in several molecular dimensions, though, and display a variety of physical properties that are distinct from crystalline solids. The following are some examples of amorphous solids. If you are unsure of the difference between amorphous and crystalline solids, keep reading!


Aerogels have unique properties, making them an excellent material for a number of applications. These properties range from thermal insulators to catalysis, and even energy storage and generation. These materials are also useful in biomedical implants and coatings, and as sensors. Listed below are some of the more interesting uses of aerogels. Further information can be found on the manufacturers’ websites. To learn more about aerogel applications, please read their product descriptions or visit their website.