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Keywords:

  • periodic nets;
  • Euclidian embeddings;
  • geometric descriptors

Crystal-structure topologies, represented by periodic nets, are described by labelled quotient graphs (or voltage graphs). Because the edge space of a finite graph is the direct sum of its cycle and co-cycle spaces, a Euclidian representation of the derived periodic net is provided by mapping a basis of the cycle and co-cycle spaces to a set of real vectors. The mapping is consistent if every cycle of the basis is mapped on its own net voltage. The sum of all outgoing edges at every vertex may be chosen as a generating set of the co-cycle space. The embedding maps the cycle space onto the lattice L. By analogy, the concept of the co-latticeL* is defined as the image of the generators of the co-cycle space; a co-lattice vector is proportional to the distance vector between an atom and the centre of gravity of its neighbours. The pair (L, L*) forms a complete geometric descriptor of the embedding, generalizing the concept of barycentric embedding. An algebraic expression permits the direct calculation of fractional coordinates. Non-zero co-lattice vectors allow nets with collisions, displacive transitions etc. to be dealt with. The method applies to nets of any periodicity and dimension, be they crystallographic nets or not. Examples are analyzed: α-cristobalite, the seven unstable 3-periodic minimal nets etc.