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Definition of polymorphism

The characteristic of a chemical compound to crystallize in more than one crystal class; e.g.: (1) kyanite, andalusite, and sillimanite; (2) quartz, tridymite, cristobalite, coesite, and stishovite. Allotropy refers specif. to chemical elements crystallizing in more than one class; e.g., graphite, diamond, chaoite, and lonsdaleite. Polymorphism limited to two or three crystal classes is dimorphism or trimorphism, respectively. Individual species are polymorphs (dimorphs, trimorphs). Polytypism refers to variable stacking of identical layer structures in different crystal classes. Adj: polymorphic (dimorphic, trimorphic). Adv: polymorphous (dimorphous, trimorphous).

Synonym of: pleomorphism, trimorphism, isomorphism, isotypy, polysyngony

See Also: allotropic

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