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LEGO® Molecular-Scale Models

Building Instructions for Structures at the Molecular Scale

Thanks to all who have contributed to this page, including:

Nathan Applegren, Marissa Becker, Robert Bailey, Ellen Freidinger, Matt Hehn, Jordan Hill, Kylee Korte, Joel Kouakou, Josiah Miller, Phuong Nguyen, Lauren Obermaier, Rachelle Snopko, Stacy Swanson, Richard Villarreal, Jefferson West, Elizabeth Williamson

The following list links to building instructions for a number of models of unit cells and other structures at the atomic scale. Most instruction sets follow the same format. At the top of each set of instructions is a picture of LEGO® units representing atoms or ions for that structure (remember other brick arrangements representing atoms are certainly possible). Following that is a series of pictures showing a layer-by-layer assembly sequence of the atoms and other support structures in the unit cell. The pictures show each individual layer of atoms starting from the bottom layer and building up. This is called the layer sequence for the unit cell. Squares drawn over the pictures depict unit cell boundaries. Intermediate layers are given fractional values such as Z=1/2. In addition to the layer sequence, there are pictures depicting the building-up of the unit cell as each layer is added.

Simple (primitive) cubic structures (example: polonium) - Whole atoms, Fractional atoms

Body-centered cubic structure (example: alpha-iron) - Whole atoms with fractional atoms highlighted

Face-centered cubic structure (example: copper, silver, gold, gamma iron; see also the inverse opal structures below) - Whole atoms, Fractional atoms

Hexagonal close-packed structure (example:) - Whole atoms

Cubic close-packed structure (example:) - Whole atoms

Comparison of hexagonal close-packed, cubic close-packed, and face-centered cubic structures - Whole atoms

Rocksalt structure (example: sodium chloride) - Whole atoms, Fractional atoms

Cesium chloride structure - Whole atoms, Fractional atoms

Diamond structure (examples: carbon, silicon, germanium) - Whole atoms, Fractional atoms for two unit cells

Diamond vs Lonsdaleite (both forms of carbon) - Whole atoms

Graphite (form of carbon) - Whole atoms

C60 and C70 buckminsterfullerenes (form of carbon) - Whole atoms

Carbon nanotube ("zig-zag" form) - Whole atoms

Zinc blende structure (examples: zinc sulfide, cadmium sulfide, gallium arsenide) - Whole atoms, Fractional atoms

Fluorite structure (examples: calcium fluoride) - Whole atoms, Fractional atoms

Rutile structure (examples: titanium(IV) oxide) - Whole atoms, Fractional atoms

Perovskite structure (example: calcium titanate) - Whole atoms, Fractional atoms

Yttrium barium copper oxide (superconductor) - Whole atoms, Fractional atoms

Copper mercury iodide (low temperature phase) structure - Whole atoms, Fractional atoms

Copper mercury iodide (high temperature phase) structure - Whole atoms, Fractional atoms

Magnetite (inverse spinel) - Fractional large ions (whole atom structure also described), Small whole ions

Nickel titanium (nitinol, memory metal) alloy (low temperature phase) - Whole atoms smaller cell, Whole atoms larger cell

Nickel titanium (nitinol, memory metal) alloy (high temperature phase) - Whole atoms

Nickel titanium (nitinol, memory metal) alloy - Comparison of low and high temperature phases

Quartz (crystalline and amorphous) - Whole atoms

Ice - Whole atoms for Ih phase (normal phase), Whole atoms for Ic phase (a low temperature phase)

Arsenic - Whole atoms

Nitrogen - Whole atoms

Iodine - Whole atoms

Phosphorus (white, red, and black allotropes) - Whole atoms

Sulfur (rhombic/orthorhombic and monoclinic phases) - Whole atoms

Selenium (trigonal phase) - Whole atoms

Organic structures (examples: ethanol, soap, chiral structures) - Whole atoms

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET, #1) - Whole atoms

High-density polyethylene (HDPE, #2) - Whole atoms

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC, #3) - Whole atoms

Low-density polyethylene (LDPE, #4) - Whole atoms

Polypropylene (PP, #5) - Whole atoms

Polystyrene (PS, #6 - includes examples of tacticity) - Whole atoms

Polydimethylsiloxane (includes example of a crosslinking reaction) - Whole atoms

Nylon-6,6 - Whole atoms

Polypeptide (protein) - Whole atoms

Cellulose - Whole atoms

Nanokid (TM) (person-shaped molecule developed at Rice University) - Whole atoms

Face-centered cubic inverse opal structures (represented spheres are actually larger than molecular-scale structures) - Separated spheres, Touching spheres

Atomic orbitals (examples: s, p, d) - Hybridized and not hybridized