What kind of corners does a grain of sugar have ?

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astrocourt eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If you look at sugar closely it will resemble small cube-like grains. However, individual sugar grains are actually shaped like a hexagonal prism, or fallen column. That is, oblong with slanted sides. The image below shows sugar grains that have been magnified by a factor of 40.

The edges of these grains is also sharper when compared to other common crystals, like salt. 

According to the Beet-sugar handbook (Asadi, 2007), sugar crystals actually have a monoclinic form 

The monoclinic form is one of the seven crystal lattice structures. In layman's terms, this crystal form usually has sides with different length. This is why sugar has a prism form, rather than cube form.

Individual grains can be broken. In this case they lose their intrinsic prism shape and can take on sub-forms.

The reason for this intrinsic shape comes from the shape of the individual molecules, and the bonding process. Salt molecules are cubic, so it makes sense that a collection of salt molecules is also cubic. However, the form of sugar molecules is roughly hexagonal, so the resulting shape of the grain follows suit. 

Image from http://montessorimuddle.org/2011/04/24/salt-and-sugar-under-the-microscope/ 

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