Tables for
Volume D
Physical properties of crystals
Edited by A. Authier

International Tables for Crystallography (2013). Vol. D, ch. 1.6, p. 153

Section 1.6.1. Introduction

A. M. Glazera* and K. G. Coxb

aDepartment of Physics, University of Oxford, Parks Roads, Oxford OX1 3PU, England, and bDepartment of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford, Parks Roads, Oxford OX1 3PR, England
Correspondence e-mail:

1.6.1. Introduction

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The field of classical crystal optics is an old one, and in the last century, in particular, it was the main subject of interest in the study of crystallography. Since the advent of X-ray diffraction, however, crystal optics tended to fall out of widespread use, except perhaps in mineralogy, where it has persisted as an important technique for the classification and identification of mineral specimens. In more recent times, however, with the growth in optical communications technologies, there has been a revival of interest in the optical properties of crystals, both linear and nonlinear. There are many good books dealing with classical crystal optics, which the reader is urged to consult (Hartshorne & Stuart, 1970[link]; Wahlstrom, 1959[link]; Bloss, 1961[link]). In addition, large collections of optical data on crystals exist (Groth, 1906–1919[link]; Winchell, 1931[link], 1939[link], 1951[link], 1954[link], 1965[link]; Kerr, 1959[link]). In this chapter, both linear and nonlinear optical effects will be introduced briefly in a generalized way. Then the classical derivation of the refractive index surface for a crystal will be derived. This leads on to a discussion on the practical means by which conventional crystal optics can be used in the study of crystalline materials, particularly in connection with mineralogical study, although the techniques described apply equally well to other types of crystals. Finally, some detailed explanations of certain linear optical tensors will be given.


Bloss, F. D. (1961). An introduction to the methods of optical crystallography. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
Groth, P. (1906–1919). Chemische Kristallographie. Vols. I-V. Leipzig: Engelmann.
Hartshorne, N. H. & Stuart, A. (1970). Crystals and the polarising microscope. London: Arnold.
Kerr, P. F. (1959). Optical mineralogy. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Wahlstrom, E. E. (1959). Optical crystallography. New York: Wiley.
Winchell, A. N. (1931). Microscopic characters of artificial inorganic solid substances or artificial minerals. New York: Wiley. [New edition (1964). New York: Academic Press.]
Winchell, A. N. (1939). Elements of optical mineralogy, Part III. New York: Wiley.
Winchell, A. N. (1951). Elements of optical mineralogy, Part II. New York: Wiley.
Winchell, A. N. (1954). The optical properties of organic compounds. New York: Academic Press.
Winchell, A. N. (1965). Optical properties of minerals. A determinative table. New York: Academic Press.

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