# Crystal system

In crystallography, a crystal system is a set of point groups (a group of geometric symmetries with at least one fixed point). A lattice system is a set of Bravais lattices. Space groups are classified into crystal systems according to their point groups, and into lattice systems according to their Bravais lattices. Crystal systems that have space groups assigned to a common lattice system are combined into a crystal family.

The seven crystal systems are triclinic, monoclinic, orthorhombic, tetragonal, trigonal, hexagonal, and cubic. Informally, two crystals are in the same crystal system if they have similar symmetries (albeit there are many exceptions).

## Classifications

Crystals can be classified in three ways: lattice systems, crystal systems and crystal families. The various classifications are often confused: in particular the trigonal crystal system is often confused with the rhombohedral lattice system, and the term "crystal system" is sometimes used to mean "lattice system" or "crystal family".

### Lattice system

A lattice system is a group of lattices with the same set of lattice point groups. The 14 Bravais lattices are grouped into seven lattice systems: triclinic, monoclinic, orthorhombic, tetragonal, rhombohedral, hexagonal, and cubic.

### Crystal system

A crystal system is a set of point groups in which the point groups themselves and their corresponding space groups are assigned to a lattice system. Of the 32 crystallographic point groups that exist in three dimensions, most are assigned to only one lattice system, in which case both the crystal and lattice systems have the same name. However, five point groups are assigned to two lattice systems, rhombohedral and hexagonal, because both exhibit threefold rotational symmetry. These point groups are assigned to the trigonal crystal system.

### Crystal family

A crystal family is determined by lattices and point groups. It is formed by combining crystal systems that have space groups assigned to a common lattice system. In three dimensions, the hexagonal and trigonal crystal systems are combined into one hexagonal crystal family.

### Comparison

Five of the crystal systems are essentially the same as five of the lattice systems. The hexagonal and trigonal crystal systems differ from the hexagonal and rhombohedral lattice systems. These are combined into the hexagonal crystal family.

The relation between three-dimensional crystal families, crystal systems and lattice systems is shown in the following table:

Crystal family Crystal system Required symmetries of the point group Point groups Space groups Bravais lattices Lattice system
Triclinic Triclinic None 2 2 1 Triclinic
Monoclinic Monoclinic 1 twofold axis of rotation or 1 mirror plane 3 13 2 Monoclinic
Orthorhombic Orthorhombic 3 twofold axes of rotation or 1 twofold axis of rotation and 2 mirror planes 3 59 4 Orthorhombic
Tetragonal Tetragonal 1 fourfold axis of rotation 7 68 2 Tetragonal
Hexagonal Trigonal 1 threefold axis of rotation 5 7 1 Rhombohedral
18 1 Hexagonal
Hexagonal 1 sixfold axis of rotation 7 27
Cubic Cubic 4 threefold axes of rotation 5 36 3 Cubic
6 7 Total 32 230 14 7
Note: there is no "trigonal" lattice system. To avoid confusion of terminology, the term "trigonal lattice" is not used.

## Crystal classes

The 7 crystal systems consist of 32 crystal classes (corresponding to the 32 crystallographic point groups) as shown in the following table below:

Crystal family Crystal system Point group / Crystal class Schönflies Hermann–Mauguin Orbifold Coxeter Point symmetry Order Abstract group
triclinic pedial C1 1 11 [ ]+ enantiomorphic polar 1 trivial ${\displaystyle \mathbb {Z} _{1}}$
pinacoidal Ci (S2) 1 1x [2,1+] centrosymmetric 2 cyclic ${\displaystyle \mathbb {Z} _{2}}$
monoclinic sphenoidal C2 2 22 [2,2]+ enantiomorphic polar 2 cyclic ${\displaystyle \mathbb {Z} _{2}}$
domatic Cs (C1h) m *11 [ ] polar 2 cyclic ${\displaystyle \mathbb {Z} _{2}}$
prismatic C2h 2/m 2* [2,2+] centrosymmetric 4 Klein four ${\displaystyle \mathbb {V} =\mathbb {Z} _{2}\times \mathbb {Z} _{2}}$
orthorhombic rhombic-disphenoidal D2 (V) 222 222 [2,2]+ enantiomorphic 4 Klein four ${\displaystyle \mathbb {V} =\mathbb {Z} _{2}\times \mathbb {Z} _{2}}$
rhombic-pyramidal C2v mm2 *22 [2] polar 4 Klein four ${\displaystyle \mathbb {V} =\mathbb {Z} _{2}\times \mathbb {Z} _{2}}$
rhombic-dipyramidal D2h (Vh) mmm *222 [2,2] centrosymmetric 8 ${\displaystyle \mathbb {V} \times \mathbb {Z} _{2}}$
tetragonal tetragonal-pyramidal C4 4 44 [4]+ enantiomorphic polar 4 cyclic ${\displaystyle \mathbb {Z} _{4}}$
tetragonal-disphenoidal S4 4 2x [2+,2] non-centrosymmetric 4 cyclic ${\displaystyle \mathbb {Z} _{4}}$
tetragonal-dipyramidal C4h 4/m 4* [2,4+] centrosymmetric 8 ${\displaystyle \mathbb {Z} _{4}\times \mathbb {Z} _{2}}$
tetragonal-trapezohedral D4 422 422 [2,4]+ enantiomorphic 8 dihedral ${\displaystyle \mathbb {D} _{8}=\mathbb {Z} _{4}\rtimes \mathbb {Z} _{2}}$
ditetragonal-pyramidal C4v 4mm *44 [4] polar 8 dihedral ${\displaystyle \mathbb {D} _{8}=\mathbb {Z} _{4}\rtimes \mathbb {Z} _{2}}$
tetragonal-scalenohedral D2d (Vd) 42m or 4m2 2*2 [2+,4] non-centrosymmetric 8 dihedral ${\displaystyle \mathbb {D} _{8}=\mathbb {Z} _{4}\rtimes \mathbb {Z} _{2}}$
ditetragonal-dipyramidal D4h 4/mmm *422 [2,4] centrosymmetric 16 ${\displaystyle \mathbb {D} _{8}\times \mathbb {Z} _{2}}$
hexagonal trigonal trigonal-pyramidal C3 3 33 [3]+ enantiomorphic polar 3 cyclic ${\displaystyle \mathbb {Z} _{3}}$
rhombohedral C3i (S6) 3 3x [2+,3+] centrosymmetric 6 cyclic ${\displaystyle \mathbb {Z} _{6}=\mathbb {Z} _{3}\times \mathbb {Z} _{2}}$
trigonal-trapezohedral D3 32 or 321 or 312 322 [3,2]+ enantiomorphic 6 dihedral ${\displaystyle \mathbb {D} _{6}=\mathbb {Z} _{3}\rtimes \mathbb {Z} _{2}}$
ditrigonal-pyramidal C3v 3m or 3m1 or 31m *33 [3] polar 6 dihedral ${\displaystyle \mathbb {D} _{6}=\mathbb {Z} _{3}\rtimes \mathbb {Z} _{2}}$
ditrigonal-scalenohedral D3d 3m or 3m1 or 31m 2*3 [2+,6] centrosymmetric 12 dihedral ${\displaystyle \mathbb {D} _{12}=\mathbb {Z} _{6}\rtimes \mathbb {Z} _{2}}$
hexagonal hexagonal-pyramidal C6 6 66 [6]+ enantiomorphic polar 6 cyclic ${\displaystyle \mathbb {Z} _{6}=\mathbb {Z} _{3}\times \mathbb {Z} _{2}}$
trigonal-dipyramidal C3h 6 3* [2,3+] non-centrosymmetric 6 cyclic ${\displaystyle \mathbb {Z} _{6}=\mathbb {Z} _{3}\times \mathbb {Z} _{2}}$
hexagonal-dipyramidal C6h 6/m 6* [2,6+] centrosymmetric 12 ${\displaystyle \mathbb {Z} _{6}\times \mathbb {Z} _{2}}$
hexagonal-trapezohedral D6 622 622 [2,6]+ enantiomorphic 12 dihedral ${\displaystyle \mathbb {D} _{12}=\mathbb {Z} _{6}\rtimes \mathbb {Z} _{2}}$
dihexagonal-pyramidal C6v 6mm *66 [6] polar 12 dihedral ${\displaystyle \mathbb {D} _{12}=\mathbb {Z} _{6}\rtimes \mathbb {Z} _{2}}$
ditrigonal-dipyramidal D3h 6m2 or 62m *322 [2,3] non-centrosymmetric 12 dihedral ${\displaystyle \mathbb {D} _{12}=\mathbb {Z} _{6}\rtimes \mathbb {Z} _{2}}$
dihexagonal-dipyramidal D6h 6/mmm *622 [2,6] centrosymmetric 24 ${\displaystyle \mathbb {D} _{12}\times \mathbb {Z} _{2}}$
cubic tetartoidal T 23 332 [3,3]+ enantiomorphic 12 alternating ${\displaystyle \mathbb {A} _{4}}$
diploidal Th m3 3*2 [3+,4] centrosymmetric 24 ${\displaystyle \mathbb {A} _{4}\times \mathbb {Z} _{2}}$
gyroidal O 432 432 [4,3]+ enantiomorphic 24 symmetric ${\displaystyle \mathbb {S} _{4}}$
hextetrahedral Td 43m *332 [3,3] non-centrosymmetric 24 symmetric ${\displaystyle \mathbb {S} _{4}}$
hexoctahedral Oh m3m *432 [4,3] centrosymmetric 48 ${\displaystyle \mathbb {S} _{4}\times \mathbb {Z} _{2}}$

The point symmetry of a structure can be further described as follows. Consider the points that make up the structure, and reflect them all through a single point, so that (x,y,z) becomes (−x,−y,−z). This is the 'inverted structure'. If the original structure and inverted structure are identical, then the structure is centrosymmetric. Otherwise it is non-centrosymmetric. Still, even in the non-centrosymmetric case, the inverted structure can in some cases be rotated to align with the original structure. This is a non-centrosymmetric achiral structure. If the inverted structure cannot be rotated to align with the original structure, then the structure is chiral or enantiomorphic and its symmetry group is enantiomorphic.[1]

A direction (meaning a line without an arrow) is called polar if its two-directional senses are geometrically or physically different. A symmetry direction of a crystal that is polar is called a polar axis.[2] Groups containing a polar axis are called polar. A polar crystal possesses a unique polar axis (more precisely, all polar axes are parallel). Some geometrical or physical property is different at the two ends of this axis: for example, there might develop a dielectric polarization as in pyroelectric crystals. A polar axis can occur only in non-centrosymmetric structures. There cannot be a mirror plane or twofold axis perpendicular to the polar axis, because they would make the two directions of the axis equivalent.

The crystal structures of chiral biological molecules (such as protein structures) can only occur in the 65 enantiomorphic space groups (biological molecules are usually chiral).

## Bravais lattices

There are seven different kinds of lattice systems, and each kind of lattice system has four different kinds of centerings (primitive, base-centered, body-centered, face-centered). However, not all of the combinations are unique; some of the combinations are equivalent while other combinations are not possible due to symmetry reasons. This reduces the number of unique lattices to the 14 Bravais lattices.

The distribution of the 14 Bravais lattices into 7 lattice systems is given in the following table.

Crystal family Lattice system Point group
(Schönflies notation)
14 Bravais lattices
Primitive (P) Base-centered (S) Body-centered (I) Face-centered (F)
Triclinic (a) Ci

aP

Monoclinic (m) C2h

mP

mS

Orthorhombic (o) D2h

oP

oS

oI

oF

Tetragonal (t) D4h

tP

tI

Hexagonal (h) Rhombohedral D3d

hR

Hexagonal D6h

hP

Cubic (c) Oh

cP

cI

cF

In geometry and crystallography, a Bravais lattice is a category of translative symmetry groups (also known as lattices) in three directions.

Such symmetry groups consist of translations by vectors of the form

R = n1a1 + n2a2 + n3a3,

where n1, n2, and n3 are integers and a1, a2, and a3 are three non-coplanar vectors, called primitive vectors.

These lattices are classified by the space group of the lattice itself, viewed as a collection of points; there are 14 Bravais lattices in three dimensions; each belongs to one lattice system only. They[clarification needed] represent the maximum symmetry a structure with the given translational symmetry can have.

All crystalline materials (not including quasicrystals) must, by definition, fit into one of these arrangements.

For convenience a Bravais lattice is depicted by a unit cell which is a factor 1, 2, 3, or 4 larger than the primitive cell. Depending on the symmetry of a crystal or other pattern, the fundamental domain is again smaller, up to a factor 48.

The Bravais lattices were studied by Moritz Ludwig Frankenheim in 1842, who found that there were 15 Bravais lattices. This was corrected to 14 by A. Bravais in 1848.

## In other dimensions

### Two-dimensional space

Two dimensional space has the same number of crystal systems, crystal families, and lattice systems. In 2D space, there are four crystal systems: oblique, rectangular, square, and hexagonal.

### Four-dimensional space

‌The four-dimensional unit cell is defined by four edge lengths (a, b, c, d) and six interaxial angles (α, β, γ, δ, ε, ζ). The following conditions for the lattice parameters define 23 crystal families

Crystal families in 4D space
No. Family Edge lengths Interaxial angles
1 Hexaclinic abcd αβγδεζ ≠ 90°
2 Triclinic abcd αβγ ≠ 90°
δ = ε = ζ = 90°
3 Diclinic abcd α ≠ 90°
β = γ = δ = ε = 90°
ζ ≠ 90°
4 Monoclinic abcd α ≠ 90°
β = γ = δ = ε = ζ = 90°
5 Orthogonal abcd α = β = γ = δ = ε = ζ = 90°
6 Tetragonal monoclinic ab = cd α ≠ 90°
β = γ = δ = ε = ζ = 90°
7 Hexagonal monoclinic ab = cd α ≠ 90°
β = γ = δ = ε = 90°
ζ = 120°
8 Ditetragonal diclinic a = db = c α = ζ = 90°
β = ε ≠ 90°
γ ≠ 90°
δ = 180° − γ
9 Ditrigonal (dihexagonal) diclinic a = db = c α = ζ = 120°
β = ε ≠ 90°
γδ ≠ 90°
cos δ = cos β − cos γ
10 Tetragonal orthogonal ab = cd α = β = γ = δ = ε = ζ = 90°
11 Hexagonal orthogonal ab = cd α = β = γ = δ = ε = 90°, ζ = 120°
12 Ditetragonal monoclinic a = db = c α = γ = δ = ζ = 90°
β = ε ≠ 90°
13 Ditrigonal (dihexagonal) monoclinic a = db = c α = ζ = 120°
β = ε ≠ 90°
γ = δ ≠ 90°
cos γ = −1/2cos β
14 Ditetragonal orthogonal a = db = c α = β = γ = δ = ε = ζ = 90°
15 Hexagonal tetragonal a = db = c α = β = γ = δ = ε = 90°
ζ = 120°
16 Dihexagonal orthogonal a = db = c α = ζ = 120°
β = γ = δ = ε = 90°
17 Cubic orthogonal a = b = cd α = β = γ = δ = ε = ζ = 90°
18 Octagonal a = b = c = d α = γ = ζ ≠ 90°
β = ε = 90°
δ = 180° − α
19 Decagonal a = b = c = d α = γ = ζβ = δ = ε
cos β = −1/2 − cos α
20 Dodecagonal a = b = c = d α = ζ = 90°
β = ε = 120°
γ = δ ≠ 90°
21 Diisohexagonal orthogonal a = b = c = d α = ζ = 120°
β = γ = δ = ε = 90°
22 Icosagonal (icosahedral) a = b = c = d α = β = γ = δ = ε = ζ
cos α = −1/4
23 Hypercubic a = b = c = d α = β = γ = δ = ε = ζ = 90°

The names here are given according to Whittaker.[3] They are almost the same as in Brown et al.,[4] with exception for names of the crystal families 9, 13, and 22. The names for these three families according to Brown et al. are given in parentheses.

The relation between four-dimensional crystal families, crystal systems, and lattice systems is shown in the following table.[3][4] Enantiomorphic systems are marked with an asterisk. The number of enantiomorphic pairs is given in parentheses. Here the term "enantiomorphic" has a different meaning than in the table for three-dimensional crystal classes. The latter means, that enantiomorphic point groups describe chiral (enantiomorphic) structures. In the current table, "enantiomorphic" means that a group itself (considered as a geometric object) is enantiomorphic, like enantiomorphic pairs of three-dimensional space groups P31 and P32, P4122 and P4322. Starting from four-dimensional space, point groups also can be enantiomorphic in this sense.

Crystal systems in 4D space
No. of
crystal family
Crystal family Crystal system No. of
crystal system
Point groups Space groups Bravais lattices Lattice system
I Hexaclinic 1 2 2 1 Hexaclinic P
II Triclinic 2 3 13 2 Triclinic P, S
III Diclinic 3 2 12 3 Diclinic P, S, D
IV Monoclinic 4 4 207 6 Monoclinic P, S, S, I, D, F
V Orthogonal Non-axial orthogonal 5 2 2 1 Orthogonal KU
112 8 Orthogonal P, S, I, Z, D, F, G, U
Axial orthogonal 6 3 887
VI Tetragonal monoclinic 7 7 88 2 Tetragonal monoclinic P, I
VII Hexagonal monoclinic Trigonal monoclinic 8 5 9 1 Hexagonal monoclinic R
15 1 Hexagonal monoclinic P
Hexagonal monoclinic 9 7 25
VIII Ditetragonal diclinic* 10 1 (+1) 1 (+1) 1 (+1) Ditetragonal diclinic P*
IX Ditrigonal diclinic* 11 2 (+2) 2 (+2) 1 (+1) Ditrigonal diclinic P*
X Tetragonal orthogonal Inverse tetragonal orthogonal 12 5 7 1 Tetragonal orthogonal KG
351 5 Tetragonal orthogonal P, S, I, Z, G
Proper tetragonal orthogonal 13 10 1312
XI Hexagonal orthogonal Trigonal orthogonal 14 10 81 2 Hexagonal orthogonal R, RS
150 2 Hexagonal orthogonal P, S
Hexagonal orthogonal 15 12 240
XII Ditetragonal monoclinic* 16 1 (+1) 6 (+6) 3 (+3) Ditetragonal monoclinic P*, S*, D*
XIII Ditrigonal monoclinic* 17 2 (+2) 5 (+5) 2 (+2) Ditrigonal monoclinic P*, RR*
XIV Ditetragonal orthogonal Crypto-ditetragonal orthogonal 18 5 10 1 Ditetragonal orthogonal D
165 (+2) 2 Ditetragonal orthogonal P, Z
Ditetragonal orthogonal 19 6 127
XV Hexagonal tetragonal 20 22 108 1 Hexagonal tetragonal P
XVI Dihexagonal orthogonal Crypto-ditrigonal orthogonal* 21 4 (+4) 5 (+5) 1 (+1) Dihexagonal orthogonal G*
5 (+5) 1 Dihexagonal orthogonal P
Dihexagonal orthogonal 23 11 20
Ditrigonal orthogonal 22 11 41
16 1 Dihexagonal orthogonal RR
XVII Cubic orthogonal Simple cubic orthogonal 24 5 9 1 Cubic orthogonal KU
96 5 Cubic orthogonal P, I, Z, F, U
Complex cubic orthogonal 25 11 366
XVIII Octagonal* 26 2 (+2) 3 (+3) 1 (+1) Octagonal P*
XIX Decagonal 27 4 5 1 Decagonal P
XX Dodecagonal* 28 2 (+2) 2 (+2) 1 (+1) Dodecagonal P*
XXI Diisohexagonal orthogonal Simple diisohexagonal orthogonal 29 9 (+2) 19 (+5) 1 Diisohexagonal orthogonal RR
19 (+3) 1 Diisohexagonal orthogonal P
Complex diisohexagonal orthogonal 30 13 (+8) 15 (+9)
XXII Icosagonal 31 7 20 2 Icosagonal P, SN
XXIII Hypercubic Octagonal hypercubic 32 21 (+8) 73 (+15) 1 Hypercubic P
107 (+28) 1 Hypercubic Z
Dodecagonal hypercubic 33 16 (+12) 25 (+20)
Total 23 (+6) 33 (+7) 227 (+44) 4783 (+111) 64 (+10) 33 (+7)