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A method is described for the least-squares refinement of the atomic parameters of the ordered part of a crystal structure in the presence of disordered solvent areas. Potential solvent regions are identified automatically. The contribution of the observed contents to the total structure factor is calculated via a discrete Fourier transformation, and incorporated in a further least-squares refinement of the ordered part of the structure. The procedure is iterated a few times to convergence. It is found that this mixed discrete-atom and continuous solvent-area model refinement approach greatly improves the quality of discrete atomic parameters, i.e. the geometry and the e.s.d.'s. An electron count over the solvent region in the final difference electron-density map provides a convenient estimate for the number of solvent molecules present in the unit cell. The application of the method to four structures is described.
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