A transition element is defined as the one which has incompletely filled d orbital in its ground state or in any one of its oxidation state. Zinc , cadmium and mercury are not typical transition elements because they have fill filled d orbital in their ground state as well as in their common oxidation state. These elements do not show none of the characteristic properties of transition metals like the lattice structure as shown below in picture. They probably do not have proper metal-metal bonding, a characteristic feature of transition metals. But, still they are studied along with the chemistry of transition metals. But what about manganese? It is a core and important element in transition series. Here, X is unknown lattice structure.enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Wikipedia declares zinc to have a distorted hexagonal close packing structure. Mercury is, of course, a liquid at room temperature and does not exhibit crystal structures in liquid form. I couldn’t find anything about cadmium, but since it exists in pure form, it will have more or less defined structural phases. $\endgroup$
    – Jan
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 15:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Jan, but, wikipedia says cadmium has hexagonal closed structure. Also see this - webelements.com/cadmium/crystal_structure.html $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 16:29
  • $\begingroup$ You know that Webelements =/= Wikipedia? ;) Yeah, I could have checked there. But my point is that the elements have a structure even if they have filled sub-shells. $\endgroup$
    – Jan
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 18:36
  • $\begingroup$ Iron is also slightly off. Within a limited temperature range it's FCC under ambient pressure. Shakespeare knew it all along: "There are more worlds, Horatio, than are dreamt of in [ordinary] philosophy." $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 2, 2020 at 12:38

1 Answer 1


Ah, good old Mn. This is one of the uglier ones in terms of phases. $\alpha$-Mn, the room temperature phase, is CBCC (A12 family), fairly unusual. Near 1000K, Mn transitions to $\beta$-Mn, with a simple cubic (A13 family) crystal structure. $\gamma$-Mn is FCC, face-centered cubic (A1), and $\delta$-Mn is BCC, body-centered cubic (A2).

One excellent reference is A.T. Dinsdale, SGTE Data for Pure Elements, CALPHAD 15(4) 317-425 (1991). There is a readily available PDF of an updated version of that paper that can be found (Dinsdale). This paper gives the accepted Gibbs free energy functions for the elements in their various stable, and some unstable, forms.

Editing to add additional information on the $\alpha$- and $\beta$-Mn crystal phases. Both of these phases are pretty weird, and each is the first observed crystal with their structure (hence they are the 'prototype' in crystallography terms).

$\alpha$-Mn was described by A.J. Bradley and J. Thewlis in 'The Crystal Structure of $\alpha$-Manganese', Proc. Royal Society 115, 456-471 (1927). The unit cell is based on body-centered cubic, but contains 58 atoms representing 4 distinct positions. It can be thought of as a bcc Bravais lattice with a 29 atom basis. Mn is the only element that exhibits this crystal structure.

$\beta$-Mn was described by G.D. Preston in Phil. Mag. 5(33) 1207-1212 (1928). The unit cell is simple cubic, containing 20 atoms in 2 groups. Preston's unit cell drawing is significantly worse than that of Bradley and Thewlis, although representations of the unit cell can be easily found on the web these days. Again, Mn is the only element that exhibits this crystal structure.

The $\delta$-Mn and $\gamma$-Mn are normal, boring bcc and fcc crystals, so no need to point to references for them.

I would provide links to the papers if I could - my institute does not have direct access to them.

As yet further info on the crystal structure references. The A12, A13, ... notation is the Strukturebericht notation used by crystallographers. Unfortunately, there are a number of other notations used as well, including Schonenflies and Hermann-Mauguin. The Strukturebericht is pretty basic, mostly a catalog of crystal types, while the others convey the actual symmetries of the crystal structure. Some of this confusion of notations seems to date from the early days of crystallography when it was done in many places and languages. There are seven crystal systems, 14 Bravais lattices, 32 crystallographic point groups, and 230 space groups to be described to some level by the various notations. For this answer I stuck to the Strukturebericht because that is the notation used in the Dinsdale reference on Gibbs free energies of the elemental phases.

  • $\begingroup$ Could you provide a list of abbreviations? Since I studied chemistry in Germany, I am not familiar with CBCC, FCC and BCC. (And since I never truely studied solid-state chemistry, I don’t know what A13, A12 or the others are, either). $\endgroup$
    – Jan
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 15:12
  • $\begingroup$ Ah, the joys of crystallography notation... The A12 notation comes from the Strukturebericht designation. Other systems used include the Schoenflies notation, Hermann-Mauguin, and various others. One gets used to dealing with them all at some level. Now, FCC is face-centered cubic (Strukturebericth A1), BCC is body centered cubic (A2), HCP is hexagonal close packed (A3). CBCC is not common, and I tend to think of it as 'complex' BCC, but that is probably poor form on my part. I can edit to add more detail. Thanks for pointing that out. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 15:42

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