MiS Preprint Repository

We have decided to discontinue the publication of preprints on our preprint server as of 1 March 2024. The publication culture within mathematics has changed so much due to the rise of repositories such as ArXiV ( that we are encouraging all institute members to make their preprints available there. An institute's repository in its previous form is, therefore, unnecessary. The preprints published to date will remain available here, but we will not add any new preprints here.

MiS Preprint

Objective Structures

Richard D. James


An objective atomic structure is a collection of atoms represented by mass points or ions for which every atom sees precisely the same atomic environment, up to rotation (or, more generally, orthogonal transformations) and translation. An objective molecular structure is a collection of molecules in which corresponding atoms in each molecule see precisely the same environment up to orthogonal transformations and translation. Many of the most actively studied structures in science satisfy these conditions, including an arbitrary ordered periodic crystal lattice, the tails and also the capsids of certain viruses, carbon nanotubes, many of the common proteins and C60. A single crystal rod that has been bent and twisted into helical form also satisfies the conditions in a certain sense. The quantum mechanical significance of objective structures is described and some general methods for generating such structures are developed. Using these methods, some unexpected objective structures are revealed. Methods for simplified atomic level calculations of the energy, equilibrium and dynamics of these structures are given.


Related publications

2006 Repository Open Access
Richard D. James

Objective structures

In: Journal of the mechanics and physics of solids, 54 (2006) 141, pp. 2354-2390