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X-ray data on silicon, tetracyanoethylene, p-nitropyridine N-oxide and ammonium thiocyanate are refined with a generalized aspherical-atom formalism as introduced by Stewart, but modified to have a spherical valence more similar to the unperturbed HF valence shell. Several types of radial dependences of the multipole functions are tested and criteria are developed for judging the adequacy of the aspherical-atom refinement. The aspherical-atom model leads to a significant decrease in the least-squares error function, a reduction of features in the residual map, and an improvement in thermal parameters when comparison is made with the neutron results or when the rigid-bond postulate proposed by Hirshfeld is applied. Positional parameters are often improved except in the case of terminal atoms for which discrepancies, attributed to correlation between dipole-population and positional parameters, are sometimes observed. Deformation maps based on the aspherical-atom least-squares parameters contain less noise than X -- N maps and benefit from inclusion of calculated values of weak structure amplitudes in the summation. In the cases studied, deformation maps including terms beyond the experimental resolution do not yield additional information.
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