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4.3: Single crystals- Mechanical properties

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    Gypsum can be cleaved along particular crystallographic planes using a razor blade. The bonding perpendicular to these cleavage planes is weaker than that in other directions, and hence the crystal breaks preferentially along these planes. Quartz and diamond do not have such distinct cleavage planes, and so cleaving these crystals requires much more effort and care.

    There are distinct planes in the gypsum structure, with no bonding between them. These are the cleavage planes. It is much more difficult to cleave gypsum along planes other than these. In contrast, all of the planes in the quartz structure are interconnected and the material is much more difficult to cleave in any direction. This is a demonstration of a way in which the crystal structure of a material can influence its mechanical properties.