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A rock containing three crystals of pyrite (FeS2). The crystal structure of pyrite is primitive cubic, and this is reflected in the cubic symmetry of its natural crystal facets.
A network model of a primitive cubic system.
The primitive and cubic close-packed (also known as face-centered cubic) unit cells.

In crystallography, the cubic (or isometric) crystal system is a crystal system where the unit cell is in the shape of a cube. This is one of the most common and simplest shapes found in crystals and minerals.

There are three main varieties of these crystals:

  • Primitive cubic (abbreviated cP<ref name=ITC213>International Tables for Crystallography (2006). Vol. A, Section 2.1.3, pp. 14–16. Link</ref> and alternatively called simple cubic)
  • Body-centered cubic (abbreviated cI<ref name=ITC213/> or bcc),
  • Face-centered cubic (abbreviated cF<ref name=ITC213/> or fcc, and alternatively called cubic close-packed or ccp)

Each is subdivided into other variants listed below. Note that although the unit cell in these crystals is conventionally taken to be a cube, the primitive unit cell often is not. This is related to the fact that in most cubic crystal systems, there is more than one atom per cubic unit cell.

A classic isometric crystal has square or pentagonal faces.


Cubic crystal system sections
Intro  Cubic space groups  Crystal classes  Voids in the unit cell  Multi-element compounds  Weaire\u2013Phelan structure  See also  References  Further reading  External links  

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