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# Miller index

Examples of directions

three integers h, k, and ℓ, the Miller indices. They are
written (hkℓ), and denote the family of planes orthogo-
nal to hb1 + kb2 + ℓb3 , where bi are the basis of the
reciprocal lattice vectors. (Note that the plane is not al-
ways orthogonal to the linear combination of direct lattice
vectors ha1 + ka2 + ℓa3 because the reciprocal lattice
vectors need not be mutually orthogonal.) By conven-
tion, negative integers are written with a bar, as in 3 for
−3. The integers are usually written in lowest terms, i.e.
their greatest common divisor should be 1.
There are also several related notations:[1]

• the notation {hkℓ} denotes the set of all planes that
are equivalent to (hkℓ) by the symmetry of the lat-
tice.

In the context of crystal directions (not planes), the cor-
responding notations are:

• [hkℓ], with square instead of round brackets, de-
notes a direction in the basis of the direct lattice vec-
tors instead of the reciprocal lattice; and

• similarly, the notation <hkℓ> denotes the set of all
directions that are equivalent to [hkℓ] by symmetry.

Miller indices were introduced in 1839 by the British
mineralogist William Hallowes Miller. The method was
also historically known as the Millerian system, and the
indices as Millerian,[2] although this is now rare.
The Miller indices are deﬁned with respect to any choice
of unit cell and not only with respect to primitive basis
vectors, as is sometimes stated.

Planes with diﬀerent Miller indices in cubic crystals 1 Deﬁnition
There are two equivalent ways to deﬁne the meaning of
Miller indices form a notation system in crystallography the Miller indices:[1] via a point in the reciprocal lattice,
for planes in crystal (Bravais) lattices. or as the inverse intercepts along the lattice vectors. Both
In particular, a family of lattice planes is determined by deﬁnitions are given below. In either case, one needs to

1

(hkℓ) simply indicates a normal to the planes in For face-centered cubic and body-centered cubic lattices. and b3 ). [010]. brackets denote a family of directions. the basis of the primitive reciprocal lattice vectors.2 3 CASE OF HEXAGONAL AND RHOMBOHEDRAL STRUCTURES 2 Case of cubic structures For the special case of simple cubic crystals. then . If one of the indices is zero. the Miller indices (hkℓ) and [hkℓ] both simply denote normals/directions in Cartesian coor- dinates. metry: it remains unchanged by a rotation of 1/3 (2π/3 ciprocal lattice. and hence are again simply the Cartesian directions. such as [100]. (hkℓ) denotes a plane that intercepts the three points a1 /h. cause the coordinates are integers. [001] or the Then. or some multiple 3 Case of hexagonal and rhombo- thereof. the three prim- itive reciprocal lattice vectors are also determined (de. in this common case. as are those of the reciprocal lattice.[1] indices. Note that [hkℓ] is not generally normal rad. the Miller indices are proportional to hedral structures the inverses of the intercepts of the plane. this normal is itself in these cases the Miller indices are conventionally de- always a reciprocal lattice vector. (hkℓ) denotes negative of any of those directions. much the way angle ghkℓ = hb1 + kb2 + ℓb3 . 120°). and a3 /ℓ. except in a cubic lattice as described really similar. and a3 that deﬁne Because of the symmetry of cubic crystals. That is. For ex- ample. it means With hexagonal and rhombohedral lattice systems. h + k + i = 0. Equivalently. right (221) a dhkℓ = √ h2 + k 2 + ℓ2 choose the three lattice vectors a1 . the lattice vectors are orthogonal and of equal length (usually de- noted a). In the ﬁgure at right. the spacing d between adjacent (hkℓ) lattice planes is (from above) Examples of determining indices for a plane using intercepts with axes. The [100]. it is that the planes do not intersect that axis (the intercept is possible to use the Bravais-Miller system. k. That is. given the three Miller indices h. For cubic crystals with lattice constant a. as the equivalent directions and planes: examples below illustrate). The related notation [hkℓ] denotes the direction: This four-index scheme for labeling planes in a hexagonal lattice makes permutation symmetries apparent. Be. it is possi- the unit cell (note that the conventional unit cell may be ble to change the place and sign of the integers and have larger than the primitive cell of the Bravais lattice. However. the (001) plane has a 3-fold sym- That is. which uses four “at inﬁnity”). shown. in the basis of the lattice vectors. Thus. planes orthogonal to the reciprocal lattice vector: • Indices in curly brackets or braces such as {100} de- note a family of plane normals which are equivalent due to symmetry operations. tance d between adjacent lattice planes is related to the (shortest) reciprocal lattice vector orthogonal to the Here h. tice vector in the given direction. Given these. the similarity between (110) ≡ (1120) and (120) ≡ (1210) is more obvious when the redundant index is ha1 + ka2 + ℓa3 . it uses the direct lattice basis instead of the re. • Indices in angle brackets such as ⟨100⟩ denote a fam- noted b1 . [010] and the [110] directions are to the (hkℓ) planes. [110] axis. and i is a redundant index. If S is the intercept of the plane with the below. a2 /k. b2 . the primitive lattice vectors are not orthogonal. the perpendicular dis. k and ℓ are identical to the corresponding Miller planes by the formula: d = 2π/|ghkℓ | . The requirement of ﬁned relative to the lattice vectors of the cubic supercell lowest terms means that it is the shortest reciprocal lat. ℓ. a2 . indices (h k i ℓ ) that obey the constraint Considering only (hkℓ) planes intersecting one or more lattice points (the lattice planes). ily of directions which are equivalent due to sym- metry operations. left (111).

in the transmission • optical properties: in condensed matter. may be expressed in terms of direct-lattice basis-vectors a1 . ℓ(3/2)(a/c)2 ] instead. these dense planes have an inﬂuence on the behaviour of the crystal: There are also ad hoc schemes (e. in suitably normalized triplet form. four-index zone indices in square or planes (the elastic perturbation is “diluted”). k. this reduces the friction (Peierls–Nabarro dex on the right with reciprocal-lattice indices (normally force). However they don't operate by according to the directions. however. a2 and a3 as • surface tension: the condensation of a material means that the atoms. For hexagonal crystals this nodes. the sliding occurs more frequently on in round or curly brackets) on the left. gested above can be written in terms of reciprocal lattice these phenomena are thus sensitive to the density of vectors as hb1 + kb2 + ℓb3 .g. . the light electron microscopy literature) for indexing hexagonal “jumps” from one atom to the other with the lattice vectors (rather than reciprocal lattice vectors or Rayleigh scattering. Some directions and planes have a higher den- sity of nodes. this gives the birefringence index set. the lit- erature often uses [h. close or far. ions or molecules are more stable if they are surrounded by other similar species. 3a2 3a c • the pores and crystallites tend to have straight grain boundaries following dense planes Hence zone indices of the direction perpendicular to • cleavage plane (hkℓ) are. sim- ply [2h+k. the reciprocal lattice vector (hkℓ) as sug- chemical reactions occur on atoms or molecules. ℓ(3/2)(a/c)2 ] . dense planes. angle brackets sometimes mix a single direct-lattice in. • adsorption and reactivity: the adsorption and the For example.[3] • the dislocation core tends to spread on dense Thus as you can see. When four indices are • dislocations (plastic deformation) used for the zone normal to plane (hkℓ). 3 (100) 0) (21 10) (1 [001] R=½ Q=1 S = -½ [0 10 ] _ [100] P=1 Dense crystallographic planes _ 0] 1 [1 4 Crystallographic planes and di- rections Miller-Bravais indices The crystallographic directions are ﬁctitious lines link- ing nodes (atoms. ions or molecules) of a crystal. the surface tension of an interface thus 2 2 1 varies according to the density on the surface hb1 +kb2 +ℓb3 = (2h+k)a1 + 2 (h+2k)a2 + 2 (ℓ)a3 . ing nodes. the velocity of light thus varies planes) with four indices. −h−k. the crystallographic planes are ﬁctitious planes link- i = 1/S. Simi- larly. h+2k. whether the atoms are similarly adding a redundant index to the regular three.

on the other hand. To un. involving the intersection of more than one such hyperplane. it is important to determine the planes and thus to have a notation system. 8 External links • IUCr Online Dictionary of Crystallography 5 Integer vs. It forms an aperiodic pattern known as a quasicrystal. For a plane (abc) where a. This construction corresponds precisely to the standard “cut-and-project” method of deﬁning a quasicrystal. • MTEX – Free MATLAB toolbox for Texture Anal- tion. Eindhoven) ISBN 1-878907-35-2. Thus. Ordinarily. suppose that we allow a plane (abc) where • http://sourceforge.net/projects/orilib – A collection the Miller “indices” a. Miller indices are always integers by deﬁni. are formed by “cuts” of periodic lattices in more than three dimensions. the dislocation line is often a straight [3] J. a dislocation loop is often a polygon. b and c appropriately: divide by the largest of the three numbers. V. Ashcroft and N. materials science (N. irrational Miller in- • Miller index description with diagrams dices: Lattice planes and qua- sicrystals • Online tutorial about lattice planes and Miller in- dices. and this constraint is physically signiﬁcant. Philips’ Gloeilampenfabrieken. and then multiply by the least common denominator. integer Miller indices implicitly include indices with all rational ratios. Solid State distortion. necessarily integers. W. b and c (deﬁned as above) are not of routines for rotation / orientation manipulation. (Although many quasicrystals.) 6 See also • Crystal structure • Reciprocal lattice • Kikuchi line • Zone axis . If a. [2] Oxford English Dictionary Online (Consulted May 2007) rection. David Mermin.4 8 EXTERNAL LINKS • the perturbation carried by the dislocation 7 References (Burgers vector) is along a dense direction: the shift of one node in a dense direction is a lesser [1] Neil W. Physics (Harcourt: New York. such as the Penrose tiling. including special tools for crystal orientations. using a plane with irrational-ratio Miller indices. The rea- son why planes where the components (in the reciprocal- lattice basis) have rational ratios are of special interest is that these are the lattice planes: they are the only planes whose intersections with the crystal are 2d-periodic. then the same fam- ily of planes can be written in terms of integer indices (hkℓ) by scaling a. Edington (1976) Practical electron microscopy in line. b and c have irrational ra- tios. b and c have rational ratios. Appendix 2 For all these reasons. the intersection of the plane with the crystal is not periodic. ysis derstand this. 1976) • the dislocation line tends to follow a dense di.

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