Click on the unit cell to view it rotating.

We can think of this unit cell as made by stuffing another atom into the center of the simple cubic lattice, slightly spreading the corners. Thus, the corner spheres no longer quite touch one another, but do touch the center. The diagonal through the body of the cube is 4x (sphere radius).

The packing efficiency of a bcc lattice is considerably higher than that of a simple cubic:   69.02 %

The higher coordination number and packing efficency mean that this lattice uses space more efficiently than simple cubic.

The unit cells stack together like this:


We can also think of this lattice as made from layers of square - packed spheres. However, alternating layers stack so that the spheres "nestle down" into the spaces between the spheres in the layer below. (Remember that in a simple cubic lattice the spheres stack directly atop one another).

You may examine the lattice structure rotating by clicking on the following image.
 BCC lattices are very common in metals (iron, chromium, tungsten, and sodium, for example).
Click here to go to the next page.
 Structure of Crystals
Crystal Lattices
Unit Cells
From Unit Cell to Lattice
From Lattice to Unit Cell
Packing & Geometry
Simple Cubic Metals
Close Packed Structures
Body Centered Cubic
Cesium Chloride
Sodium Chloride
Rhenium Oxide
Niobium Oxide
Except as otherwise noted, all images, movies and VRMLs are owned and copyright  by
Dr. Barbara L. Sauls and Dr. Frederick C. Sauls  1998.
Contact the owners for individual permission to use.