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Using group-subgroup and group-supergroup relations, a general theoretical framework is developed to describe and derive interpenetrating 3-periodic nets. The generation of interpenetration patterns is readily accomplished by replicating a single net with a supergroup G of its space group H under the condition that site symmetries of vertices and edges are the same in both H and G. It is shown that interpenetrating nets cannot be mapped onto each other by mirror reflections because otherwise edge crossings would necessarily occur in the embedding. For the same reason any other rotation or roto-inversion axes from G \ H are not allowed to intersect vertices or edges of the nets. This property significantly narrows the set of supergroups to be included in the derivation of interpenetrating nets. A procedure is described based on the automorphism group of a Hopf ring net [Alexandrov et al. (2012). Acta Cryst. A68, 484-493] to determine maximal symmetries compatible with interpenetration patterns. The proposed approach is illustrated by examples of twofold interpenetrated utp, dia and pcu nets, as well as multiple copies of enantiomorphic quartz (qtz) networks. Some applications to polycatenated 2-periodic layers are also discussed.

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Coordinates of all the structures mentioned in the paper (cgd format)

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