The 14 Bravais Lattices: A Foundation of CrystallographyThe 14 Bravais Lattices

The 14 Bravais Lattice: A Foundation of Crystallography

14 Bravais Lattice

The study of crystals & their structures has fascinated the scientists for many centuries. Understanding underlying structure of materials at the atomic level is the key to unlocking their properties and applications.

14 Bravais Lattice is one of the fundamental concepts in crystallography is the idea of a Bravais lattice,that is a mathematical framework used to describe the periodic arrangements of atoms in a crystal.

There are 14 Bravais lattice that describe all possible ways or methods in which same atoms can be arranged in periodic manner in three-dimension. These lattices are named after Auguste Bravais, a French physicist who first introduced the concept in 1848.

Every Bravais lattice is characterized by set of lattice points.All the lattice points are arranged in a repeating pattern throughout the crystal.They give rise to overall symmetry of a crystal.

The 14 Bravais lattices can be further classified into 7 crystal systems.These are cubic, tetragonal, orthorhombic, rhombohedral, hexagonal, monoclinic, and triclinic.

Cubic System

The cubic system is most simplest and most symmetric of all crystal systems. In it, the lattice points are arranged in a simple cubic lattice. The tetragonal system is just similar to the cubic system but with longer axis in one direction than in the other two. The orthorhombic system has three axis of different lengths, all are at right angles to each other.

Rhombohedral System

The rhombohedral system has single three-fold axis of the symmetry and its lattice points arranged in a rhombohedral lattice.Hexagonal system has a six-fold axis of symmetry.

Its lattice points are arranged in a hexagonal lattice.There are two axes in monoclinic system which are at right angle to each other and with a third axis at an oblique angle to these two.

Triclinic System

The triclinic system has not any axes of symmetry and the lattice points of it are arranged in a triclinic lattice. Each of these crystal systems has unique properties which can be exploited for different applications.

The 14 Bravais lattices are the basic foundation of crystallography .These have been used to describe structure of a vast variety of materials, metals and ceramics to biological macromolecules.

They are important in study of phase transitions, where the arrangement of atoms in material changes as a result of external stimuli such as temperature or pressure etc.

In summary, the 14 Bravais lattices are a fundamental concept in crystallography which describes the periodic arrangements of atoms in crystal.

They are classified into seven crystal systems based on symmetry and the angles between axes. Understanding the Bravais lattices and their associated crystal systems is necessary for understanding the properties and behavior of materials at atomic level and for unlocking their full potential in lots of applications.

Understanding Crystal Lattices

Before we embark on our journey through the diverse world of Bravais lattices, let’s gain a foundational understanding of crystal lattices. A crystal lattice is a repeating, three-dimensional arrangement of atoms, ions, or molecules that collectively form a crystalline material. These lattices define the shape and structure of the crystal, affecting its physical and chemical properties.

The Role of Bravais Lattices

The 14 Bravais lattices serve as the basis for classifying all possible lattice structures. Swiss mathematician Auguste Bravais presented these lattices in the 19th century, highlighting their significance in understanding the regularity and symmetry of crystals. They are classified into seven crystal systems, including cubic, tetragonal, orthorhombic, rhombohedral, hexagonal, monoclinic, and triclinic.

Characteristics of Bravais Lattices

Each Bravais lattice possesses distinct characteristics, making them crucial in crystallography and solid-state physics. The primary features include lattice points, unit cells, and symmetry elements. The lattice points represent the positions of atoms or particles in the crystal structure, while the unit cell is the smallest repeating unit of the lattice. Symmetry elements, such as rotation, reflection, and inversion, play a vital role in understanding the crystal’s symmetry.

The Cubic Bravais Lattices

Among the 14 Bravais lattices, the cubic system holds a prominent place. It comprises three distinct lattices: simple cubic, body-centered cubic (bcc), and face-centered cubic (fcc). The simple cubic lattice has lattice points only at the corners of a cube, whereas the bcc lattice has an additional lattice point at the center of the cube. The fcc lattice, on the other hand, contains lattice points at the cube’s corners and the center of each face.

The Tetragonal and Orthorhombic Bravais Lattices

Moving on, let’s explore the tetragonal and orthorhombic systems. The tetragonal lattice possesses lattice points at the corners of a rectangular prism, with two edges of equal length and one distinct edge of a different length. The orthorhombic lattice, on the other hand, consists of lattice points at the corners of a rectangular prism, with all three edges having different lengths.

The Rhombohedral and Hexagonal Bravais Lattices

The rhombohedral lattice, also known as the trigonal lattice, has lattice points at the corners of a rhombohedron, where all sides are of equal length. The hexagonal lattice, closely related to the rhombohedral system, comprises lattice points forming a hexagonal prism.

The Monoclinic and Triclinic Bravais Lattices

Lastly, let’s explore the monoclinic and triclinic systems. The monoclinic lattice has lattice points at the corners of a parallelepiped, where two edges are of equal length but meet at an oblique angle. The triclinic lattice is the most general and least symmetrical of all the Bravais lattices, with lattice points forming a parallelepiped where all edges have different lengths and angles.

Applications in Various Scientific Fields

The 14 Bravais lattices find applications in diverse scientific fields, including material science, solid-state physics, and crystallography. They help researchers understand crystal structures, phase transitions, and material properties, paving the way for technological advancements in industries like electronics, metallurgy, and medicine.


In conclusion, the 14 Bravais lattices form the backbone of crystallography, allowing scientists to decipher the mysteries hidden within the atomic arrangements of crystals. Each lattice presents unique symmetry and characteristics, guiding researchers in exploring various scientific phenomena. By comprehending the significance of these lattices, we gain a deeper appreciation for the marvels of the crystalline world and unlock endless possibilities for technological progress in the future.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What are the 14 Bravais Lattices?

The 14 Bravais Lattices are a set of unique lattice structures that serve as the foundation for classifying all possible arrangements of atoms, ions, or molecules in crystalline materials. These lattices are categorized into seven crystal systems, including cubic, tetragonal, orthorhombic, rhombohedral, hexagonal, monoclinic, and triclinic.

What is the significance of Bravais Lattices in scientific research?

Bravais Lattices play a crucial role in various scientific fields, particularly in material science, solid-state physics, and crystallography. They help scientists understand the symmetry and properties of crystals, enabling advancements in technology and industries such as electronics, metallurgy, and medicine.

How are Bravais Lattices different from crystal structures?

Bravais Lattices are the theoretical framework that defines the repeating arrangements of lattice points in a crystal structure. On the other hand, a crystal structure is the actual arrangement of atoms, ions, or molecules in a crystalline material, considering factors like atomic radii, bonding, and intermolecular forces. Bravais Lattices provide a systematic way to classify and analyze various crystal structures, making it easier to study the properties of different materials.

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