Orthorhombic crystal system

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In crystallography, the orthorhombic crystal system is one of the 7 crystal systems. Orthorhombic lattices result from stretching a cubic lattice along two of its orthogonal pairs by two different factors, resulting in a rectangular prism with a rectangular base (a by b) and height (c), such that a, b, and c are distinct. All three bases intersect at 90° angles, so the three lattice vectors remain mutually orthogonal.

Bravais lattices[edit]

Rectangular vs rhombic unit cells for the 2D orthorhombic lattices. The interchanging of centering type when the unit cell is changed also applies for the 3D orthorhombic lattices


There are two orthorhombic Bravais lattices in two dimensions: Primitive rectangular and centered rectangular. The primitive rectangular lattice can also be described by a centered rhombic unit cell, while the centered rectangular lattice can also be described by a primitive rhombic unit cell.


There are four orthorhombic Bravais lattices: primitive orthorhombic, base-centered orthorhombic, body-centered orthorhombic, and face-centered orthorhombic.

Bravais lattice Primitive
Pearson symbol oP oS oI oF
Standard unit cell Orthohombic, simple Orthohombic, base-centered Orthohombic, body-centered Orthohombic, face-centered
Right rhombic prism unit cell Right rhombic prism, base-centered Right rhombic prism, simple Right rhombic prism, face-centered Right rhombic prism, body-centered

In the orthorhombic system there is a second choice of crystal axes that results in a unit cell with the shape of a right rhombic prism,[1] although this axis setting is very rarely used; this is because the rectangular two-dimensional base layers can also be described with rhombic axes. In this axis setting, the primitive and base-centered lattices interchange in centering type, while the same thing happens with the body-centered and face-centered lattices.

Crystal classes[edit]

The orthorhombic crystal system class names, examples, Schönflies notation, Hermann-Mauguin notation, point groups, International Tables for Crystallography space group number,[2] orbifold notation, type, and space groups are listed in the table below.

# Point group Type
Space groups
Name Schön. Intl Orb. Cox. 
16-24 sphenoidal [3] D2 222 222 [2,2]+ enantiomorphic
P222, P2221, P21212, P212121
C2221, C222
I222, I212121
25-46 pyramidal [3] C2v mm2 *22 [2] polar
(hemimorphite, bertrandite)
Pmm2, Pmc21, Pcc2, Pma2, Pca21, Pnc2, Pmn21, Pba2, Pna21, Pnn2
Cmm2, Cmc21, Ccc2
Amm2, Aem2, Ama2, Aea2
Fmm2, Fdd2
Imm2, Iba2, Ima2
47-74 bipyramidal [3] D2h mmm *222 [2,2] centrosymmetric
(olivine, aragonite, marcasite)
Pmmm, Pnnn, Pccm, Pban, Pmma, Pnna, Pmna, Pcca, Pbam, Pccn, Pbcm, Pnnm, Pmmn, Pbcn, Pbca, Pnma
Cmcm, Cmca, Cmmm, Cccm, Cmme, Ccce
Fmmm, Fddd
Immm, Ibam, Ibca, Imma

See also[edit]


  1. ^ See Hahn (2002), p. 746, row oC, column Primitive, where the cell parameters are given as a1 = a2, α = β = 90°
  2. ^ Prince, E., ed. (2006). International Tables for Crystallography. International Union of Crystallography. ISBN 978-1-4020-4969-9. doi:10.1107/97809553602060000001. 
  3. ^ a b c "The 32 crystal classes". Retrieved 2009-07-08. 

Further reading[edit]