What is Hopper Crystal?

What is Hopper Crystal?
Hopper Halite crystal from Searles Lake, Trona, California. Photo: crystalminer

A hopper crystal is a form of crystal, defined by its "hoppered" shape.

This form appears, when a crystal grows faster at the edges of each face, than at the centre. This is due to a higher electrical attraction along the edges of the crystal, so they draw the mineral molecules stronger than the interior sections.

The edges of hoppered crystals are fully developed, but the interior spaces are not filled in. This results in what appears to be a hollowed out step lattice formation, as if someone had removed interior sections of the individual crystals. In fact, the "removed" sections never filled in, because the crystal was growing so rapidly that there was not enough time (or material) to fill in the gaps.

The interior edges of a hoppered crystal still show the crystal form characteristic to the specific mineral, and so appear to be a series of smaller and smaller stepped down miniature versions of the original crystal.

Hoppering occurs when electrical attraction is higher along the edges of the crystal; this causes faster growth at the edges than near the face centers. This attraction draws the mineral molecules more strongly than the interior sections of the crystal, thus the edges develop more quickly. However, the basic physics of this type of growth is the same as that of dendrites but, because the anisotropy in the solid–liquid inter-facial energy is so large, the dendrite so produced exhibits a faceted morphology.

Hoppering is common in many minerals, including lab-grown bismuth, galena, quartz (called skeletal or fenster crystals), gold, calcite, halite (salt), and water (ice).

Hopper Galena
Hopper Galena. Photo: Quebul Fine Minerals
Hopper halite
 Hopper halite from Sieroszowice mine in Poland.
Photo: Spirifer Minerals
Bismuth. Photo: Gem_stallion
See also: 
What Are Crystals?
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