What's the Difference?

BCC (Body-Centered Cubic) and FCC (Face-Centered Cubic) are two common crystal structures found in metals. BCC has a cubic unit cell with atoms located at each corner and one atom at the center of the cube. On the other hand, FCC has a cubic unit cell with atoms located at each corner and one atom at the center of each face. One key difference between BCC and FCC is their packing efficiency. BCC has a packing efficiency of 68%, meaning that only 68% of the available space is occupied by atoms. In contrast, FCC has a higher packing efficiency of 74%, allowing for a denser arrangement of atoms. This difference in packing efficiency affects the physical properties of metals, such as their density and strength.


StructureBody-centered cubicFace-centered cubic
Number of atoms per unit cell24
Coordination number812
Atomic packing factor0.680.74
ExamplesIron, Chromium, TungstenAluminum, Copper, Silver

Further Detail


When it comes to crystal structures, two of the most common arrangements are Body-Centered Cubic (BCC) and Face-Centered Cubic (FCC). These structures play a crucial role in various fields, including materials science, metallurgy, and solid-state physics. While both BCC and FCC have their unique characteristics, understanding their attributes is essential for comprehending their applications and properties. In this article, we will delve into the differences and similarities between BCC and FCC, exploring their atomic arrangements, packing efficiency, mechanical properties, and applications.

Atomic Arrangement

In terms of atomic arrangement, BCC and FCC differ significantly. In BCC, each unit cell contains one atom at each corner and an additional atom at the center of the cube. This central atom is shared by eight adjacent unit cells, resulting in a coordination number of 8. On the other hand, FCC has atoms at each corner of the unit cell and one atom at the center of each face. This arrangement leads to a coordination number of 12, as each atom is in contact with twelve neighboring atoms.

Packing Efficiency

When it comes to packing efficiency, FCC has a higher value compared to BCC. Packing efficiency refers to the percentage of space occupied by atoms in a crystal structure. In FCC, the packing efficiency is approximately 74%, which means that around 74% of the available space is filled with atoms. This high packing efficiency is due to the close-packed nature of the arrangement, where each atom is in contact with twelve others. On the other hand, BCC has a packing efficiency of approximately 68%, as the central atom is not in direct contact with all the corner atoms.

Mechanical Properties

Both BCC and FCC exhibit distinct mechanical properties. BCC structures tend to be more ductile and have higher impact strength compared to FCC structures. This is because the presence of the central atom in BCC provides a greater resistance to deformation and dislocation movement. BCC metals, such as iron and tungsten, are commonly used in applications requiring toughness and resistance to fracture. On the other hand, FCC structures, including aluminum and copper, are known for their excellent electrical conductivity and malleability. They can be easily shaped and formed into various products.


The differences in atomic arrangement and mechanical properties between BCC and FCC make them suitable for different applications. BCC metals find extensive use in construction, automotive, and aerospace industries due to their strength and toughness. For example, steel, which has a BCC structure, is widely employed in the construction of buildings, bridges, and pipelines. It provides the necessary strength to withstand heavy loads and external forces. On the other hand, FCC metals are commonly used in electrical wiring, electronics, and jewelry. Their high electrical conductivity and malleability make them ideal for transmitting electrical signals and creating intricate designs.

Comparison Table

Atomic ArrangementOne atom at each corner and one at the center of the cubeAtoms at each corner and one at the center of each face
Packing EfficiencyApproximately 68%Approximately 74%
Mechanical PropertiesHigher impact strength and ductilityExcellent electrical conductivity and malleability
ApplicationsConstruction, automotive, aerospaceElectrical wiring, electronics, jewelry


In conclusion, BCC and FCC crystal structures have distinct attributes that set them apart. BCC has a unique atomic arrangement with a coordination number of 8, while FCC has a coordination number of 12. FCC also exhibits a higher packing efficiency compared to BCC. In terms of mechanical properties, BCC metals are known for their toughness and impact strength, while FCC metals excel in electrical conductivity and malleability. These differences make BCC metals suitable for applications requiring strength and resistance to fracture, while FCC metals find use in electrical and jewelry industries. Understanding the attributes of BCC and FCC is crucial for selecting the appropriate crystal structure for specific applications and designing materials with desired properties.

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