Crystallography Matters!

Resources for crystallographic education

The reciprocal lattice

A. Authier

Laboratoire de Minéralogie Cristallographie associé au C.N.R.S. - Université Pierre et Marie Curie, PARIS

Teaching aims

To give a firm mathematical understanding of the reciprocal lattice, of the relationships between real and reciprocal space and of their implications for X-ray diffraction.


This approach would be suitable for final year undergraduates in physics and mathematics or for initial post-graduate students in other disciplines provided that their mathematical background is adequate.


A familiarity with vector manipulation is needed and, for certain sections, an understanding of tensor calculus.

Practical resources

No specific practical resources are required.

Time required for teaching

If the mathematical background is already adequate this could be taught in 3 or 4 lectures. More would be required, however, if time has to be spent on mathematical equations and derivations as in places the treatment given is very concise.