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A perfect crystal, with every atom of the same type in the correct position, does not exist.
All crystals have some defects. Imperfection in the regular geometrical arrangement of
the atoms in a crystalline solid is called a defect. Defects contribute to the mechanical
properties of metals. In fact, using the term defect is sort of a misnomer since these
features are commonly intentionally used to manipulate the mechanical properties of a
material. There are four basic classes of crystal defects; point, linear, planar and volume

So far it has been assumed that perfect order exists throughout crystalline materials on an
atomic scale. However ,such an idealised solid does not exist; all contain large number of
various defects or imperfections. By crystalline defect is meant a lattice regularity
having one or more of its dimensions on the order of an atomic diameter. The properties
of a material are sensitive to the deviations from crystalline perfection; the influence is
not always adverse, and often specific characteristics are deliberately fashioned by the
introduction of controlled amounts or numbers of particular defects. Adding alloying
elements to a metal is one way of introducing a crystal defect. The presence of defects
also affects the color of the crystal
These imperfections result from deformation of the solid, rapid cooling from high
temperature, or high-energy radiation (X-rays or neutrons) striking the solid. Located at
single points, along lines, or on whole surfaces in the solid, these defects influence its
mechanical, electrical, and optical behaviour.
In general, there are many other kinds of possible defects, ranging from simple and
microscopic, such as the vacancy and other structures shown in the illustration, to
complex and macroscopic, such as the inclusion of another material, or a surface.
Broadly the defects are classified on the basis of geometry and dimensionality as:

Point: which are places where an atom is missing or irregularly placed in the
lattice structure.
Linear: which are groups of atoms in irregular positions. They are commonly
called dislocations.
Planar: which are interfaces between homogeneous regions of the material. Planar
defects include grain boundaries, stacking faults and external surfaces.
Volume: occur on a much bigger scale than the rest of the crystal defects.

Point defects are defects which are not extended
in space in any dimension. Point defects are where
an atom is missing or is in an irregular place in the
lattice structure. Point defects include self
interstitial atoms, interstitial impurity atoms,
substitutional atoms and vacancies as shown in
A self interstitial atom is an extra atom that has
crowded its way into an interstitial void in the
crystal structure. A substitutional impurity atom is
an atom of a different type than the bulk atoms,
which has replaced one of the bulk atoms in the
lattice. Substitutional impurity atoms are usually
close in size (within approximately 15%) to the
bulk atom. An example of substitutional impurity
atoms is the zinc atoms in brass. In brass, zinc
atoms with a radius of 0.133 nm have replaced some of the copper atoms, which have a
radius of 0.128 nm.
Vacancies are sites which are usually occupied by an atom but which are unoccupied. If a
neighboring atom moves to occupy the vacant site, the vacancy moves in the opposite
direction to the site which used to be occupied by the moving atom. The stability of the
surrounding crystal structure guarantees that the neighboring atoms will not simply
collapse around the vacancy. In some materials, neighboring atoms actually move away
from a vacancy, because they can form better bonds with atoms in the other directions.
Interstities are atoms which occupy a site in the crystal structure at which there is usually
not an atom. They are generally high energy configurations. Small atoms in some crystals
can occupy interstices without high energy, such as hydrogen in palladium. Interstitial
impurity atoms are much smaller than the atoms in the bulk matrix. Interstitial impurity
atoms fit into the open space between the bulk atoms of the lattice structure. An example
of interstitial impurity atoms is the carbon atoms that are added to iron to make steel.
Carbon atoms, with a radius of 0.071 nm, fit nicely in the open spaces between the larger
(0.124 nm) iron atoms.
Electroneutrality is the state that exists when there are equal numbers of positive and
negative charges from the ions. One such defect involves a cation-vacancy and a cationinterstitial pair. This is called a Frenkel defect. It might be thought of as being formed by
a cation leaving its normal position and moving into an interstitial site. There is no
change in the density of the crystalline solid.
A cation vacancy-anion vacancy pair is know as schottky defect. This defect is created by
removing one cation and one anion from the interior of the crystal and then placing them
both at an external surface. Since both cations and anions have same charge and for every
anion vacancy there exists a cation vacancy, the charge neutrality is maintained.

Line defects, or dislocations, are lines along which whole rows of atoms in a solid are
arranged anomalously. The resulting irregularity in spacing is most severe along a line
called the line of dislocation. Dislocations are generated and move when a stress is
applied. The motion of dislocations allows slip plastic deformation to occur .Line
defects can weaken or strengthen solids.
There are two basic types of dislocations, the edge dislocation and the screw

The edge defect can be easily visualized as an
extra half-plane of atoms in a lattice. The
dislocation is called a line defect because the
locus of defective points produced in the lattice
by the dislocation lie along a line. This line runs
along the top of the extra half-plane. The interatomic bonds are significantly distorted only in
the immediate vicinity of the dislocation line.
The figure 2 below shows the atom positions
around an edge dislocation; extra half -plane of

The screw dislocation is being formed by a shear stress that is applied to produce the
distortion. As shown in the figure: the upper front region of the crystal is shifted one
atomic distance to right relative to the bottom portion. The atomic distortion associated
with the screw dislocation is also linear and along a dislocation line AB in figure 4. The
screw dislocation derives its name from the spiral or helical path or ramp that is traced
around the disclocation line by the atomic planes of atoms.
Most dislocations found in crystalline materials are probably neither pure edge nor pure
screw ,but exhibit components of both types; termed as mixed locations.

Planar defects also know as interfacial defects are boundaries that have two dimensions
and normally separate regions of the materials that have crystal structure. These
imperfections include external surfaces, grain boundaries, twin boundaries and phase

One of the most obvious boundaries is the external surface, along which the structure
terminates. Surface atoms are not bonded to the maximum number of nearest neighbors,
and are therefore in a higher energy state than the atoms at the interior positions. To
reduce this energy, materials tend to minimize the total surface area if at all possible.

Solids generally consist of a number of
crystallites or grains. Grains can range in
size from nanometers to millimeters
across and their orientations are usually
rotated with respect to neighboring
grains. Where one grain stops and
another begins is know as a grain
boundary. Grain boundaries limit the
lengths and motions of dislocations.

It is a special type of grain boundary
across which there is a specific mirror
lattice symmetry; that is, atoms on one
side of the boundary are located in the
mirror-image positions of the atoms on
the other side. The region of material
between these boundaries is termed as

A change in the stacking sequence over a few atomic spacings produces a stacking fault.
A stacking fault is a one or two layer interruption in the stacking sequence of atom
planes. Stacking faults occur in a number of crystal structures, but it is easiest to see in
close packed structures. Stacking faults are found in FCC metals when there is an
interruption in the ABCABCABC stacking sequence of closed-packed planes.

Bulk defects occur on a much bigger scale. These
include pores, cracks, foreign inclusions, and other
phases. They are normally introduced during processing
and fabrication steps. Voids are regions where there are
a large number of atoms missing from the lattice.
Another type of bulk defect occurs when impurity
atoms cluster together to form small regions of a
different phase. The term phase refers to that region of
space occupied by a physically homogeneous material.
These regions are often called precipitates.

A crystal is never perfect; a variety of imperfections can affect the ordering. A defect is a
small imperfection affecting a few atoms. All solid materials contain large numbers of
imperfections or deviations from crystalline perfection. Defects contribute to the
mechanical properties of metals. It also affects the colours of the crystals. Impurities in
solids may exist as a point defects.

(1) Callisters Materials Science and Engineering (Book)
(2) Google.com (Search Engine)
(3) Wikipedia.com (Encyclopedia)
(4) ndt-ed.org (Education Resources)


Submitted To The
Mechanical Department
H.B.T.I, Kanpur
For The Session
2009- 2010

Submitted By :
Aakansha Arora
Roll No. 0804540001
SR. No. 269/08
2nd B.Tech Mechanical Engineering