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isomorphism

isomorphism (Īˌsəmôrˈfĭzəm) [key], of minerals, similarity of crystal structure between two or more distinct substances. Sodium nitrate and calcium sulfate are isomorphous, as are the sulfates of barium, strontium, and lead. Crystals of isomorphous substances are almost identical. The substances sometimes crystallize together in a solid solution. Isomorphous substances usually have similar chemical formulas, and the polarizability and ratio of anion and cation radii are generally comparable (see ion). Isomorphism was discovered (c.1820) by Eilhard Mitscherlich, who stated the principle that isomorphous substances have similar chemical formulas; this principle was used by J. J. Berzelius in determining chemical formulas and combining weights. See polymorphism; mineral; crystal.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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