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Crystalline solids consisting of three-dimensional networks of interconnected rigid units are ubiquitous amongst functional materials. In many cases, application-critical properties are sensitive to rigid-unit rotations at low temperature, high pressure or specific stoichiometry. The shared atoms that connect rigid units impose severe constraints on any rotational degrees of freedom, which must then be cooperative throughout the entire network. Successful efforts to identify cooperative-rotational rigid-unit modes (RUMs) in crystals have employed split-atom harmonic potentials, exhaustive testing of the rotational symmetry modes allowed by group representation theory, and even simple geometric considerations. This article presents a purely algebraic approach to RUM identification wherein the conditions of connectedness are used to construct a linear system of equations in the rotational symmetry-mode amplitudes.

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Rigid-unit modes detected in hexagonal and tetragonal tungsten bronzes using the algebraic approach, organized by irrep and simple OPD

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