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The lattice constant (lattice parameter) refers to the constant distance between unit cells in a crystal lattice. Lattices in three dimensions generally have three lattice constants, referred to as a, b, and c. However, in the special case of cubic crystal structures, all of the constants are equal and we only refer to a. Similarly, in hexagonal crystal structures, the a and b constants are equal, and we only refer to the a and c constants.
In epitaxial growth, the lattice constant is a measure of the structural compatibility between different materials. Lattice constant matching is important for growth of thin layers of materials on other materials; when the constants differ, strains are introduced into the layer, which prevents epitaxial growth of thicker layers without defects.
Lattice matching, matching of lattice structures between two different semiconductor materials, allows forming of a region of band gap change in the material without introducing a change in crystal structure. It allows construction of advanced light-emitting diodes and diode lasers.
For example, gallium arsenide, aluminium gallium arsenide, and aluminium arsenide have almost equal lattice constants, making it possible to grow almost arbitrarily thick layers of one on the other one.
Lattice constants can be determined by X-ray diffraction.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Lattice_constant". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|