Atomic packing factor
“How can we quantify how much of a crystal structure is occupied by its particles?”
When working with crystals, it can be easy to forget that the entire volume of the structure is not occupied by its constituent particle. Because of this, it can be useful to quantify how much space is actually filled with material. After years and years of hard work and careful research, Materials Scientists have come up with a conceptual tool called an atomic packing factor. The atomic packing factor is calculated by taking the total number of particles in a crystal volume, multiplying it by their volumes and then dividing it by the total volume. This relationship can be quantitatively organized using the equation APF = (Number of atoms *Volume of atoms )/Volume of crystal. This procedure is useful for research in sustainable energy, as one would be able to analyze the properties of different types of photovoltaic crystals for solar panels.