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Mathematics and Mechanics of Solids

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Dislocations in crystals, Homogeneous spaces, Dislocation density


Given a smooth defective solid crystalline structure defined by linearly independent ‘lattice’ vector fields, the Burgers vector construction characterizes some aspect of the ‘defectiveness’ of the crystal by virtue of its interpretation in terms of the closure failure of appropriately defined paths in the material and this construction partly determines the distribution of dislocations in the crystal. In the case that the topology of the body manifold M is trivial (e.g., a smooth crystal defined on an open set in R2), it would seem at first glance that there is no corresponding construction that leads to the notion of a distribution of disclinations, that is, defects with some kind of ‘rotational’ closure failure, even though the existence of such discrete defects seems to be accepted in the physical literature. For if one chooses to parallel transport a vector, given at some point P in the crystal, by requiring that the components of the transported vector on the lattice vector fields are constant, there is no change in the vector after parallel transport along any circuit based at P. So the corresponding curvature is zero. However, we show that one can define a certain (generally non-zero) curvature in this context, in a natural way. In fact, we show (subject to some technical assumptions) that given a smooth solid crystalline structure, there is a Lie group acting on the body manifold M that has dimension greater or equal to that of M. When the dislocation density is non-constant in M the group generally has a non-trivial topology, and so there may be an associated curvature. Using standard geometric methods in this context, we show that there is a linear connection invariant with respect to the said Lie group, and give examples of structures where the corresponding torsion and curvature may be non-zero even when the topology of M is trivial. So we show that there is a ‘rotational’ closure failure associated with the group structure – however, we do not claim, as yet, that this leads to the notion of a distribution of disclinations in the material, since we do not provide a physical interpretation of these ideas. We hope to provide a convincing interpretation in future work. The theory of fibre bundles, in particular the theory of homogeneous spaces, is central to the discussion.


© The Author(s) 2018

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