According to Introduction to Solid State Physics by C. Kittel,

An ideal crystal is constructed by the infinite repetition of identical groups of atoms. A group is called the basis. The set of mathematical points to which the basis is attached is called the lattice.

The crystal structure of copper is face-centered cubic (fcc). So we can say the lattice is fcc, and the basis is composed of one single copper atom.

I was wondering if it is wrong to say, instead, that the lattice is simple cubic (sc), and the basis is composed of four copper atoms.

Both give the same arrangement of atoms in space, but in the second there are fewer lattice points.


1 Answer 1


The fcc structure can be generated from a sc lattice with a four-atom basis.

The sentence above is from lecture notes by Phil Ahrenkiel of South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

So, this means that if four atoms with positions





are added to each point of a simple-cubic lattice, the resulting arrangement of the whole atoms in space forms a face-centered cubic structure.

  • $\begingroup$ Kittel's book admittedly does not state this explicitly, but it can be inferred from noting that the conventional cells shown in Fig. 10 for the cubic space lattices are all contained within a cube with side length $a$, and that the fcc lattice has four lattice points per conventional cell, as stated both in the text and in Table 2. $\endgroup$
    – Anyon
    Commented Nov 23, 2023 at 17:06
  • $\begingroup$ Please use the edit link on your question to add additional information. The Post Answer button should be used only for complete answers to the question. - From Review $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 23, 2023 at 17:37
  • $\begingroup$ Sadly I am nowhere to save this post by including its essential part, but someone better than me, please do it. $\endgroup$
    – peterh
    Commented Nov 23, 2023 at 20:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JohnRennie, I added some details and I hope it's better now. Frankly, to me the answer is so clear that no further details are needed. $\endgroup$
    – apadana
    Commented Nov 23, 2023 at 23:53

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