This chapter describes the nature of the crystalline state and introduces the concepts of the motif and symmetry — an understanding of both is very important in analysing the molecular structure of crystals. It discusses the unit cell and crystal lattice, and methods for defining directions and lattice planes within the crystal. It then outlines the essential nature of the various symmetry operations relating molecules within crystals and the manner in which these operations give rise to repeating three-dimensional arrangements of the motif (known as space groups) is described. The inherent limitations on the space groups which are available to protein crystals are also explained.
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