Ferrite (α-iron)

Class: Elemental Structure

Related Structures: Cesium Chloride

Notable Properties: Magnet, Structural Material

The body centered cubic unit cell of alpha-iron
The body-centered cubic unit cell of alpha-iron

 

Description:

Ferrite or α-iron is the ambient conditions stable form of elemental iron and represents the elemental simple solid with structure type body-centered cubic (space group: Im-3m). Like the structure of polonium this compound  has 1 atom at the corner of the unit cell  (0,0,0), but also another precisely in the center of the cube at (0.5, 0.5, 0.5). Approximately 20 % of all naturally occurring elements preferentially adopt this structure type under ambient conditions. A packing diagram of this class structure and periodic table showing all that elements that adopt this phase is given below.

Packing diagram of alpha-iron with atoms colored by special position in the unit cell
Packing diagram of alpha-iron with atoms colored by special position in the unit cell

Applications:

α-Iron is itself a particularly important material being the phase of elemental iron used as soft magnets, a basic structural material since the iron age (–1300 bce), and is also the parent structure of modern steels (10 mol% carbon, and other  alloying transition metals).

bcc ptable

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