# If I break a crystal, would the "broken" pieces also have the same crystal shape? [closed]

If I've a crystal of some particular geometrical shape and i hammer it and it breaks into small pieces. Will the small pieces have the same shape as of the parent crystal?

• No, it won't. $\ce{}$ Jun 30, 2020 at 4:49
• Thank you, and this cost me my whole chemistry stack fortune. Jun 30, 2020 at 5:08
• @M.Farooq I would disagree with you on this one. The question has many signs of a one-liner "lazy" request that shows no research whatsoever and lacks clarity (and punctuation). What is "the same shape", exactly? Preservation of crystal symmetry, morphology, linear/angular parameters of the bulk sample, their ratio, or something else? OP might want to have a look at the old video by Alan Holden demonstrating what cleavage is (if that's what the question is about, and sorry, no hammering there). Jun 30, 2020 at 7:45
• @andselisk I do apologize if my post is vague, I'm not a chemistry student. However I do want to clarify that there may be people whose native language is not English in any way. To them writing in English is itself a challenge, not to mention punctuation. It's akin, asking an Englishman to write correct Chinese. Jun 30, 2020 at 9:05
• @dear andselisk, it's okay and I agree with what you said. Cheers :) Jun 30, 2020 at 9:19

In most cases, a random hammering on a crystal will smash the later into randomly shaped, even irregular pieces of matter. As shown in the video suggested by @andselisk however, if you aim parallel to the cleavage planes you may obtain fragments which are similar to each other. This similarity however is not necessarily about the shape of the objects (as in «a cube yielded smaller cubes»), nor in the ratio of the side lengths of the smaller fragments. The similarity you may find is that the constant angle two faces enclose for one crystallographic phase of a given compound as illustrated below:

This form of regularity was identified by the Danish Niels Steensen, better known as Steno's law of the constancy of interfacial angles, published in 1669 which you may read digitized e.g., on archive.org.

The identification of the same surfaces among crystals stays of relevance today describing the habit of a crystal with Miller indices

(credit)

for example because the speed of propagation of light and refractive index generally depends on the direction in respect to the crystal's coordinate system. Knowing the correct orientation helped you to pick the right face to look at while using the sunstone (described further here).

Addition: The video shows how to split inorganic crystals with hammer and razor blade, which may appear as brute. But it is not. Indeed, the technique equally is used today in crystallography to «cut» needle-shaped crystals of organic matter into specimen around 0.3 x 0.3 x 0.3 mm (or below) before mounting them on a diffractometer. Not only that this may be a delicate act dangerous to the sample quality (which you estimate rapidly while recording the data), often, you need only a very gentle tap with the razor blade along the cleavage plane to perform it.

• (+1) Excellent answer! I just took a couple of pictures of the some of my calcite (Iceland Spar) and my faceted Iolite (Cordierite aka sunstone aka water sapphire). My photos are here for a couple of days. Feel free to use (or entirely ignore) them. The red arrows, on the picture with the raw calcite crystal (from Mumbai, India), show where the single edge razor blade could be placed. I actually cleaved off a small piece that way and very little force was required.
– Ed V
Jun 30, 2020 at 16:07