Twin obliquity

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Obliquité de la macle (Fr). Obliquità del geminato (It)

The concept of obliquity was introduced by Friedel in 1920 as a measure of the overlap of the lattices on the individuals forming a twin.

Let us indicate with [u ' v ' w '] the direction exactly perpendicular to a twin plane (hkl), and with (h ' k ' l ') the plane perpendicular to a twin axis [uvw]. [u ' v ' w '] is parallel to the reciprocal lattice vector [hkl]* and (h ' k ' l ') is parallel to the reciprocal lattice plane (uvw)*. The angle between [uvw] and [u ' v ' w '] or, which is the same, between (hkl) and (h ' k ' l '), is called the obliquity ω.

The vector in direct space [uvw] has length L(uvw); the reciprocal lattice vector [hkl]* has length L*(hkl). The obliquity ω is thus the angle between the vectors [uvw] and [hkl]*; the scalar product between these two vectors is

L(uvw) L*(hkl) cosω = <uvw|hkl> = uh + vk + wl

where <| stands for a 1x3 row matrix and |> for a 3x1 column matrix.

It follows that

cosω = (uh + vk + wl)/L(uvw)L*(hkl)

where L(uvw) = <uvw|G|uvw>1/2 and L*(hkl) = <hkl|G*|hkl>1/2, G and G* being the metric tensors in direct and reciprocal space, respectively.

Notice that G* = G-1 (and thus G = G*-1) and that the matrix representation of the metric tensor is symmetric and coincides thus with its transpose (G = GT, G* = G*T).


  • Donnay, J.D.H. and Donnay, G. (1959) Twinning, section 3.1.9 in International Tables for X-Ray Crystallography, Vol. III. Birmingham: Kynoch Press.
  • Chapter 1.3 of International Tables of Crystallography, Volume C
  • Chapter 3.3 of International Tables of Crystallography, Volume D


  • Friedel, G. (1920) Contribution à l'étude géométrique des macles. Bull Soc fr Minér., 43 246-295
  • Friedel, G. (1926). Leçons de Cristallographie. Berger-Levrault, Nancy, Paris, Strasbourg, XIX+602 pp.