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Crystal structures of Ln–X, Ln–Ln'–X, Ln–M–X, and Ln–X–Z compounds (Ln and Ln' are rare-earth elements; M is subgroup I–VIIIa or II–Vb cation and Z is subgroup V–VIIb anion; X is S, Se, or Te) were systematized and analyzed using data obtained by us and data from the literature. The structures of binary Ln–X chalcogenides can be divided into 4 groups: derivatives of NaCl-type structures, structures with one small parameter b≈ 4 Å, structures similar to those of oxides and pniktides, and derivatives of PbFCl-type structures. Triple Ln–Ln'–X chalcogenides have structures similar to those of the binary chalcogenides of the first, second, and third groups. It was shown that the crystal structure of Ln–M–X depends on the size of cation M, its formal charge, electronegativity value, and electronic structure. The crystal structures of the phases in the Ln–M–X and Ln–X–Z compounds were compared with binary chalcogenide structures. Different variants of structure characterization and their potentialities are considered. Special attention is given to the defect-containing and ordered structures and to elucidating the role of the cation and anion vacancies in the phase structures.