Example of a crystal lattice of aluminum and copper, where the unit cell is a cube. Most metals are made up of smaller crystals known as grains. In each grain are the atoms very regularly spaced in a three-dimensional crystal lattice. The precise location of the atoms in the grid depends on what the metal is, but all lattices have what is called a unit cell, which is a kind of building block that is placed next to each other and stacked to a larger lattice. All the grains in the same metal atoms are located in the same kind of lattice. The difference between the individual grains is that the grid faces in different ways.

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Image Credit: Department for Materials Research, Risø DTU


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