Crystals and crystal structures

Crystals and crystal structures

Richard Tilley

Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons 2006 | 270pp | ?80.00 ISBN 0470018208

Reviewed by Simon Parsons

This book is intended for students who need to understand crystallography without necessarily becoming crystallographers. It contains most of the material that is conventionally treated in introductory crystallography texts, but whereas the majority of these use molecular crystal structures to illustrate concepts, Tilley draws his examples mostly from solid state chemistry and mineralogy. Students in these areas will therefore find this book particularly useful. 

The strength of this book lies in the sections dealing with topics that are rarely treated at an elementary level. More space than is usual is given over to the uses of electron diffraction and microscopy. Modular crystals and incommensurate structures are also rarely treated at this level, but are very successfully done so here. There is a constant emphasis on understanding structure and physical properties; there is a nice
discussion of photonic crystals, for example, based on Bragg’s law. The importance of symmetry in determining anisotropic physical properties is discussed. 

The depth of treatment of different topics is somewhat variable. For example, solution of the phase problem by direct or Patterson methods is not covered in much detail, whereas solution of protein structures by anomalous scattering methods gets four pages. The stated aim of the book is that the reader should be able to comprehend scientific papers describing crystal structures, but there is hardly any information in the book about refinement. Geometry in directand reciprocal space is treated extensively, and we learn (twice) that the reciprocal of an F-centred cell is I-centred, though why this should ever matter to anyone is never explained.

In short, this text contains a number of useful chapters that can be recommended, but it should not be the only book on the reading list.