• silicon carbide;
  • polytypism;
  • polytypes

A worked example of polytypism is presented, aimed at assisting undergraduates in the learning and instructors in the teaching of this topic. In particular, this crystallography concept, not necessarily obvious for beginners, is illustrated pedagogically using to that end the model case of the prolific polytypism of silicon carbide (SiC). On the basis of concepts that are easily assimilated by students (i.e. simple topological constraints) this article first presents a unified description of the polytypism phenomenon in SiC that allows one to understand without difficulty the existence of its numerous polytypic variants and how they develop. Then the various notations used to designate these different polytypes are described, and finally the crystal structures of the most common are discussed. This worked example is thus expected to contribute to motivating undergraduates in the study of a crystallography topic that often is not treated in sufficient depth in class.